Friday, December 31, 2004

Simple Life...not talking about the show...

with the "Stupid Spoiled Whore."

Interesting proposal: A New American Dream.

The site and it's organizers urge Americans to move from a life of conspicuous consumption and jump off the "Work and Spend Treadmill." I wanted the free-stuff book, but I guess I have to pay $10 for it.

Maybe this will begin a new Shaker movement... or return to simpler living... I wonder if Walden Pond is polluted? God, I hope not.

http://www.newdream.org/live/time/index.php

Simple knit hat circa 1920's with boucle scarf

I've been called a compulsive knitter. Sitting and watching TV without the prospect of getting something else done at the same time seems like a terrible waste to me. There are those knitters who are problem solvers. These people can knit stitch patterns on the fly, and don't mind doing the math when it comes to adjusting sweatern or design patterns and applying different stitches. There are those who are purely texture knitters who enjoy working with strange and wonderous fibers from strands with eyelash with bits of tinsle to cello-like ribbon. Then there are the folks who love working with color using intarsia stitching (I personally can't handle working with more than three colors, because I usually end up in a tangled jumble). I'm a texture person myself, but I've been venturing out into adapting patterns to my own taste lately. I was able to knit Christmas stockings for everyone in the family, but lately, I've been enjoying knitting scarves and hats. I knit the hat below for my mother and included a fluffly & bright red boucle yarn scarf with a slip through hole for fitting securely around the neck. I guess knitting is truly the rage, but I've been compulsively doing this for years. I've even successfully knitted mittens.

For those who cannot wait for an entire sweater. Scarves, hats (like the one below), dog sweaters (for a relatively small dog), are actually small enough projects that can be completed in a week-end maybe for quicker knit-wits even in a few hours.

1920's HAT:
Materials:
  • Washable wool (Gauge: 18 stitches/4 inches) for a small to medium hat you will need at least 120 yards. Black and dark red are beautiful colors.
  • Set of 5 double pointed needles size 8 US
  • Large needle for finishing
Key:
K- Knit
P - Purl
Inc - Increase


Instructions:
On double-pointed needs cast on 3 stitches on four of the needles.
Row 1: Knit round
Row 2: Knit increase on each needle 3 stitches - end with total of 6 on each needle
Row 3: Knit round
Row 4: Needle 1 -Purl 1 Inc 1 (knitside), P1, K1, P1, Inc (knitside), P1, K1, P1, Inc (knitside). Repeat this for the other three neededs. End with total of 9 stitches on each needle.
Row 5: Knit round
Row 6: Needle 1- P1, Inc (knitside), P1, K1 to that last stitch Inc (purlside), Repeat his for the other three needles - End with 11 stitches a needle
Row 7: Knit round
Row 8: Begin with K1 this time, Inc (purlside)... knit the same as row 6 increasing on both ends of each needle. You should end with 13 stitches on each needle.
Row 9: Knit round
Row 10: Begin with P1 this time, Inc (knitside), P1, K1 until the end of the needle. Repeat with remaining needles you should have 14 stitches on each needle.
Row 11: Knit round
Repeat rows 10 & 11 making sure to alternate starting with P1 and K1 at the beginning of each even row. Make sure to increase on the beginning end of each needle. After completing each even row you should have 4 additional stiches repeat rows 8 & 9 until you have 21 stitches on each needle. The number of stitches will depend on how fat the head that hat goes on is.
Last row: Cast off knitting and purling alternately as before.



My favorite yarn sites (discounts, baby!):
http://yarnexpress.com
http://elann.com

Free Pattern site I dig. There are not too many grandma patterns here! http://www.berocco.com


Thursday, December 30, 2004

I've said it before...I feel like a gay person who's masquerading as a straight one... out here this world (the corporation).

Once in a while I stammer like Jimmy Stewart in a staff meeting because I can't muster up the slick talk with ease or I make a reference to Proust that no one gets, and I give myself away. I found out recently that the guy who wrote the Seven Habits of Highly Anal Retentive Repressed People is Mormon (not a big surprise). Why don't we happy happy ourselves to success? "Be proactive. Understand to be Understood. Think Win-Win." There's something sickly sweet about denial. People live off of it like oxygen as the cancer of acquiescing their will eats their individuality away. I want to put this all into a book, because I feel as if we're slipping back to the days of Eisenhower and shitty paper roses fragranced with grandma's cologne. People drank a lot more back then didn't they?

Friday, December 24, 2004

Mother of all fudges

Now I understand why I haven't made candy for Christmas. What a pain in the ass, because to make the best candy you really have to take the time and use the best ingredients.

Our Christmas Candy Baskets for friends and family this year will include.

Pralines
Sugar Plums
Lemon Drops
Rocky Road
Pistachio candy
Cashew Brittle
and the Mother of all Fudges.

J discovered that he forgot to put the condensed milk into the sugar and liquid mixture that was to boil on the stove. Instead he mixed it into the Marshmallow fluff and chocolate chips. The secret to this fudge is to use extra good belgian chocolate, high quality German chocolate and a good measure of dutch processed cocoa. We added a 3/4 a cup of hot whole milk to the hot sugar mixture in lieu of the condensed milk. The result was a exceptionally creamy fudge that tasted more like chocolate icecream.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Does evolution require an apologetic?

Evolution is the slow cooking oven of time and biology. How can we truly claim to know it as some philosophers posit the existence of a thing by knowing it and experiencing it, since we live such mayfly lives and cannot witness the over all unfolding of our own evolution as a species? Then of course there's the example of those moths, or butterflies that changed their color to match the industrial darkening of the landscape in England at the turn of the 19th century.

The other night I came home from a family gathering and couldn't sleep. We turned on the toob and since we are not willing to pay for the premium package our viewing selection consists primarily of the E-channel, 1/2 of NBC (which is usually frizzy), an assortment of public access channels and PAX (the christian channel). You know you're watching some evangelical show immediately because of the 888 number that appears in the corner of the screen. We turned to this show which seemed to be a documentary on spiders, and I like nothing more than to spend a fifteen minutes of my time watching something that horrifies be before I go to sleep. However, the solicitation number appeared at the bottom of the screen. I was about to change the channel when J said, "No, wait... I want to hear how this plays out." And as he suspected the documentarian's speech about the wonderous capabilities of spiders, whether it was to create a special arial sac to have it travel hundreds of miles away or the fact that a spider can have eight different types of web secretion for eight separate purposes from web spinning to wrapping it's prey. Then the elderly gentleman with a full head of hair (it's strange how most of them have 'full' heads of hair that look surpisingly perfect) proceeded to ask the audience, "How could a spider have evolved over thousands of years to have these abilities?" Of course his argument was that God created the spider as it was... a perfect package and a machine developed by his own "Intelligent Design."

Hmmm... how could the spider have developed over millions of years? How do certain bacterias survive and become resistant to anti-biotics or anti-bacterial soaps and disinfectants? Gee, I don't know. What frightens me is that if I believe as the toupeed man does, then getting a disease or the extinction of species (including our own) could all be part of God's "Intelligent Design," and I would simply have to accept this.



A man's ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death.

-Albert Einstein

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Candy - Day Two

Praline Accident
I couldn't find my regular recipe so I used the one off of epicurious.
http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/recipe_views/views/13543

However, for some reason the candy was not setting properly. I heated the candy back up again. Still it didn't firm up. While the candy was still warm, I dumped in 1/2 c. more of brown sugar and 1/2 c. of white chocolate chips.

The result. A most delicious accident. The candy set perfectly and after they cooled I wrapped the pralines in little waxed paper envelopes.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Marzipan and other treats

Do you remember those Swiss Colony Catalogs that came in the mail right before Thanksgiving? The cover always featured starry eyed Aryan looking children looking down upon a Christmas scene blessed with Gingerbread houses, frosted windows and twinkly soft lighting. I remember fantasizing over these catalogs when I was a young child wishing that I could have the same look of wonderment that those children on the cover have. Wishing that I could have a fat ass gingerbread house and live the Hansel and Gretel dream that most children fantasize about.

I begged my mother year after year... to buy items from the catalog. The Gift Tower of Joy, a box of petit fours, maybe a selection of nuts, candies and old world cookies. They looked so colorful, so delicately shaped, so different from Grandmas and Chips Ahoy. You have to remember that I grew up in the suburbs of the West Coast where European or Old World bakeries were unheard of. Most ethnic food was unheard of.

Of course she was savy enough to know that the items in the catalog were a rip off. Later when she finally gave in from my pestering. She ordered what I wanted in lieu of a birthday gift. I had never been so disappointed in anything in my life. The petit fours despite their depiction in the catalog did not resemble the petit fours I'd had at a teahouse. Each petit four was the size of a small chocolate. The gingerbread house was 4 inches high and the royal icing was crumbling. The sad little house was decorated with four or five pieces of really sad looking candy that you wouldn't be able find in a lonely old lady's candy bowl.

We decided to give away little parcels of candy this year.

Today we tackled marzipan, sugar plums

Ever since I was a child, Marzipan has always been a favorite treat. I love anything that tastes of almonds... I have had this funny notion since I was a child that I was poisoned by cyanide gas in a past life.

Marzipan Fruits
2 c. slivered almonds
1 1/2 c. powdered sugar (more for rolling and dusting)
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 tsp almond extract
1 tsp rose water
2 tbsp water
Food Coloring

Grind the almonds until ground fine in a food processor. Add the liquid ingredients and mix in the food processor until sticky. Gradually add the powdered sugar while running the processor. Mix until a soft and pliable dough has formed. Knead slightly with a generous amount of powered sugar to avoid sticking.

Divide the dough into portions and color with food coloring. You can color sugars in 1/4 c. portions with 2-3 drops of food coloring. Allow the sugar to dry a little. While I was making these and this may sound as if I was having a remedial moment, I found it difficult to think up fruit as they corresponded to color. I kept coming up with things that were either too difficult to shape or obscure or if shaped would be mistaken for a more common fruit.: pineapple, lychee nut, passion fruit. I settled for the fruits listed below.

Peaches: My favorite shape to make is a peach. You take a little yellow and a little orange dough. Assemble them together and roll into a ball. Dust with colored orange sugar and finish with a tiny leaf made of green marzipan and a stem made of a whole clove.

Strawberries: Make an almost heartshaped fruit and poke all around with the pointy end of a clove. Dip in red colored sugar and finish with a stem and leaf just like the peach.

Peas in a pod: Roll a small piece of green dough and pinch the ends slightly. Flatten and create a long indentation along the length. Roll some more green dough with a little brown dough mixed in. Cut and roll the small pieces into tiny balls to fit in the indentation as the peas.

Baby carrots: Roll a piece of dough into a tapered cylinder shape. Semi-randomly score rings lightly around the tapered object. Create tufts of leafy protrusions to attach to the fat end of the carrot stick.

Bananas:
Roll a piece of yellow marzipan dough into a cylinder. Pinch on the ends and set in a curved shape. Pain the ends lightly with brown (red & green)food coloring diluted with water.

Oranges: Same as peach, but give the ball a uniformed, dimpled texture by rolling (and pressing lightly) over a screen wire sieve. Dust with orange colored sugar.


Next year I want to make a collection of maripan meats (just as a joke). You know, hams, porkchops, sausage, crown roasts... no one would eat them, and I'd have all the marzipan to myself.

Sugar Plums
These are suspiciously and delicously Middle Eastern. Add rose or orange water for an even more luxurious taste.

2 c. toasted slivered almonds, ground semi-fine
1 c. chopped dried apricots
1 c. chopped pitted medjool dates
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 1/4 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground allspice
1/2 nutmeg
1 tsp rose water
2 tsp orange zest finely chopped
1/4 c. honey
superfine sugar for rolling

Mix all of the above ingredients into a large sticky ball. Roll small balls of the candy (about a tsp amount each) in superfine sugar and then set aside in a cool place.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Objectivist's mind's eye

You know almost a year ago I denounced my ex, the objectivist who peed sitting down as a self-serving and hopeless idiot. I am not ashamed to admit that I am the kind of woman who takes things personally and is influenced highly by her impressions of people or how their actions impact me. I've come to admit that this is who I am and I'm no longer embarrassed by this. I am trying not to let my personal feelings affect my understanding or learning about things. I'm getting better at it, it just like graduating from wishing that things would go on forever to accepting that all things end. Not taking things too personally as I've learned is a skill that you pick up after you've become calloused with some experience.

Just because in my twenties I ran into one ridiculous testosterone driven and self-absorbed man-boy after another who insisted on the virtues of objectivism, I discounted Ayn Rand's work. At the time, and though I'm not thoroughly unconvinced of this notion, I thought that most of these men, including my ex, used the whole philosophy of objectivism to justify their desire to have a threesome that included their girlfriend... or simply justify their need to sleep with other women. After watching Ayn Rand's interview with Phil Donohue, I understood that most of the people I had encountered (who claimed to be objectivists) used Rand's philosophy to justify their selfish actions or defend their stance. They sort of missed much of Rand's own personal message in her life and work, which was to live to one's very best, and that it was necessary to protect an individual's right and freedom to do so.

Of course I could be making a judgement here, but of two of the most rabid so-called objectivists I knew, one enjoyed doing nothing but playing video games for hours and days on end and the other lived off of unemployement for as long as he could while trying to pick up as many chicks as he could. Part of me feels a little guilty for judging them, but then maybe that's the part of me that cares how people (others/society) think of me.

I can appreciate that Rand felt as strongly as she did about the power and importance of the individual (and the existance of the state to perserve the individual not the individual existence to serve the state), and I may agree that there is reallly no such thing as a completely altruistic act. We need only look at the example of missionaries to see this. However, I don't think that humans as a species got as far as they did without engaging in some sense of community and sharing. This was necessary for their survival. Even a mother's affection and bond with her child can be seen as a necessity for the preservation of her genes. Though the so called altruism of sacrificing for your children isn't really altruistic but indicative of the desire to have them and therefore yourself succeed.

Society and community are webs held together with strands of dependence. Communities are organisms in themselves we are the unwitting cells and tissue that make up the organs of certain communities and groups. But you might argue from an objectvist postion that they come together in order to insure the selfish goal of survival or self-preservation. If you take the earliest multi-celled life forms as a metaphor. They most likely evolved from single-celled creatures living together in community because their chances of survival were amplified by living communally.

We can assume that any organism's primary goal is to survive and thrive. If this means growing or encompassing more individuals, then such a social organism will seek with whatever means necessary to achieve dominance. I see this at work everyday with the company objectives being shoved down my electronic pie-hole. The company is growing elsewhere, but it's allowing it's more worn parts to atrophy and fall off. In some cases it's actively severing limbs.

I do think that at some point Malthusian Law will take over.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Yeah RIght

I think the whole Kerik thing was a ploy on the Bush Admin to discredit Rudy Giuliani… let’s face it they’re trying to take down all the moderate republican hopefuls. McCain is probably next. Did you notice that all the press attention has fallen on poor Rudy lately. the BA is already trying to distance themselves from the scandal.

We cannot provide each man with the blueprint for his acts, we can only suggest them in general terms.

The White Rose

How does one act like a true dissident in this age? Apparently, according to some people in this country it's become unfashionable to disagree with the government. Though I believe that style culture is dividing down the middle along the line between red and blue./ urban and country.

I, like many other Americans, live in fear of what may come as a result of the actions of current leadership in this country. I write to my representatives. I give money and time to certain groups, as much as I can afford to give. However, I feel like I should do more. We live in an age of complacency... We live in a world where many of us get by on the hope that nothing catastrophic will happen. We do not act. We just hope that nothing will happen.

A friend of mine and I were downtown last weekend and we saw a line of a few dozen protestors marching down the streets. I sighed, "You know I agree with them for the most part, but I do not want to hang out with any of those people." She only laughed. Most of these people are part of the green movement. I cannot relate to them. I drove through a peace rally downtown one day and witnessed someone from the street slamming their palms against an SUV and screaming "This is why we're at war!" That really pissed me off because, it seemed to me that they were just being plain stupid and belligerent. He could have just as well ran up to the car and screamed, "Nigger-Jew-Fat-Cracker Bastard!!" There were so many signs for so many causes. Meat is Murder... etc. etc.

Today, I nearly got the urge to go out into the square downtown and sit with a sign. Is that crazy? I don't want to talk. I don't want to yell. I'm getting to the point that I do want to be heard though. Is that crazy? Hell, to be frank, I'm starting not to care what people think.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

The way I watch cartoons

has changed... I think I'm a grown up now. I've been trying to get through this latest project at work and I've learned how to use the whole dual monitor thing to multitask so I can watch cartoons (sort of) while I'm working.

I watched the entire Cowboy Bebop series from beginning to end this way. I've been thinking. I would have been more upset by the ending of the series when I was younger, because I couldn't really understand or value the lesson of "endings." When we're young, we're stupid in the sense that we assume that things go on forever and ever, and maybe that's because we're young and have not really experienced terminality. Is that a word?

It seems to me that this incessant need for sequels is really a childish or even adolescent tendency. I want it to go on forever and ever and ever and EVER. Get over it... all things end... everyone DIES! Move on, go on living.

Did you hear about the soldier who had his finger removed to save his wedding ring? You can laugh about it all you want, but there's just two things about this story that tell it all... a) he's only nineteen years old b) they lost the damn ring anyway. I'm sure he'd think twice about it he'd been wearing it on his cock. God, I'm so embarrassed I said the "C" word.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Pumpkin Pie

You know I discovered my comment thingy on this blog isn't working. I'm too tired right now to even come up with the correct terminology for anything technical. I was working until 10 O'Clock yesterday trying to complete the documentation for an on-line training. The next four days will be a marathon of project work and HTML/flash development.

I was going to comment on Mak's metaphor about being the dumper or the dumpee (when it comes to working in a corporate job). Well, if you want to draw the metaphor out more... many Americans working in corporate America today must feel like the middle-aged wife whose husband is leaving her for the young and unimpressionable girl (workforce in developing countries). I see the makings of a political cartoon here, maybe a little trite, but it's true. Maybe we should get a clue and sue for a decent severance package.

On a happier note, I baked a pumpkin pie on Sunday. Easy as pie. The secret to this pie's success is the apple butter.

3 c. canned pumpkin
1 c. apple butter
3 eggs
1 can condensed milk
1 can evaporated milk
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp vanilla

Pastry for 1 deep dish pie

Beat the eggs and then combine all the above ingredients. Bake at 350 F for 45-50 minutes. Allow to cool completely.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Reply to Mak

Right now the time is ripe for restructuring here in the US (where I work)... and of course what they will do most-likely is redeploy (which is a nice way of saying LAY OFF) many skilled and experienced employees... and rebuild processes starting from ground zero using inexperienced and therefore CHEAP new hires. Never mind that it takes a costly amount of time and resources to train new employees all over again. And the executive powers that be will fuel their employees endeavors with that "We can do it all!" mentality. Of course they believe they can do it all, being fresh and new they don’t know exactly what they’re supposed to do.

Somehow, and maybe I've just become a jaded old job whore, but somehow I just can't trust the designs of upper-management. Once, in my fledgling days her at this company, I just accepted their dictates and strategies as law. I thought well, maybe they have a plan for all of us. Little did I realize that for the most part the plan would not operate in all our best interests.

Maybe that’s when it’s time to get rid of your employees… when they’ve finally figured out how their being jerked and juiced. It’s at this point that you must either convert them to the dark-side of upper management or vanquish them into the void. What was all that propoganda for I heard five years ago about investing employees futures because it was good for the future of the company? Reassurance so that you’d stay.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Otto's Biscuits

Even the dog needs a holiday treat in his stocking. I made variation on a peanut butter and molasses biscuit. Otto of course adores these treats, but I think that dogs will eat just about everything that comes their way as long as it's food. Remember not to overfeed your pets or spoil them with too much food. Bad, bad bad for the doggie heart.

Otto's Peanut Butter Dog Biscuits
1 1/2 cups water
1/3 cup oil
2 large eggs
1/2 c. peanut butter
1 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/2 cup unbleached flour
1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
2/3 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup oats
2 tbsp blackstrap molasses
2 tbsp malted milk mix
Extra flour for rolling

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Blend first five ingredients together. Combine dry ingredients together and mix into wet mixture to form a ball of dough. Roll out and shape. You will need extra flour to prevent the dough from sticking to the rolling surface or rolling pin. I use a dog bone shaped cookie cutter to cut out the shapes. Sprinkle a cookie trays lightly and evenly with cornmeal. Place cookies on corn-meal dusted cookie trays.

Bake for 20 minutes. Turn off oven and allow the biscuits to cool in oven until crisp and hard. Store in airtight container. Give your dog a treat that will add some lift to his step and make you just one step above being a doggie god.

Corporate culling

Ranting and raving (the process of skimming the so-called shit from the top of the corporate cup) is going on earlier this year. We've all been called to give our report cards at least a month earlier than last year.

No one wants to say aloud what we all fear. They're trying to thin the herd much earlier this year. No doubt hiring will increase in our third world holdings. Somehow, I fear that the ugliness at review time will increase. More and more people will be redeployed... less folks will be offered severance packages. Somehow, I feel less fearful of being cut this year, but mainly because I feel as if I've been pushed to my limit. Maybe the powers that be in the corporation are hoping that others share my sentiment and will more or less willingly call uncle.

I've been working on the same project (which was originally only supposed to take 1/4 of my working time) for 12 hours a day for the last 2 weeks. I often find myself checking my e-mail at home or as soon as I wake up in the morning. In order to meet with people on the other side of the globe. I change my hours to nightly, however, I still need to make my meetings during the day US time, so I still have to hold my normal business work hours. I took 1/2 day off yesterday so I could rest. Requiring people to work as hard as they do for as long as they do will end up being counter productive in the end. Tired and over-worked people cannot come up with the best solutions.

I really do believe that behind their (corporate heads) smiling optimism lies the understanding that they will 'require' what they can of folks before they meet their breaking point. But over the past year I've come to two conclusions that I will state bluntly:

1.) They will push the people in the US to work as hard as they possibly can because they can always hold the threat of outsourcing their job. An employee in the US can only prove their inherrent worth to the company by working harder.

2.) Those who are left after the culling is over will feed on each other.

In other news... I found out that my old group (at least a portion of the staff) has decided to hold prayer meetings. This is of course the group whom I thought was more prone to going into denial about how unhappy and dysfunctional the entire organization was. These are the same people who felt that it was okay to require people to work 60 plus hours per week. Maybe they'll become so tired and delusional that they'll start seeing god or the saints.

Friday, December 10, 2004

O Canada

You know what I love about Canada? The candy bars. Only in Canada can you readily by Crunch or Aero bars... you might even be able to find a Velvet Crumble or Flake.

But here in America the land of the Free and M&M Mars, you're pretty much stuck with waxy chocolate forever being associated with too many peanuts or too much peanut butter and maybe some 4th rate caramel if you're lucky. God. I hate American candies (aside from those made in homemade kitchens). Though Pralines do rule when made with New England Maple Syrup. I'll have to dig up that recipe. I made them one year and they were quite a hit. I'm sure some Southern grandma is rolling in her grave.

Though we should pay an homage to Canada because they do provide us with much of the natural resources we need for energy. The timber we use to build our homes. That and they have a consistent history of importing fairly decent comedians. I guess you have to develop a good nature and sense of humor when you live next to us.

Addendum...12/12. I just went shopping at Cost-plus warehouse yesterday and apparently they do have all of the candy bars I've mentioned above.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

French toast #3

6 slices of Challah slightly toasted
2 large eggs, beaten
1/2 c. egg nog make it youself or get the organic type, NO Safeway egg nog with yellow dye 5.
1/2 c. milk
1/2 tsp vanilla
Cinnamon
Butter

Combine the eggs, egg nog, milk vanilla. Pour onto a plate and sprinkle the cinnamon as evenly as possible. Place the pieces of challah toast and coat evenly on both sides. Fry on a med-high skillet until slightly golden on each side and cook until done through. Serve with copious amounts of maple syrup.

French toast is always best as a late night snack, I think.

I was driving down the freeway to get somewhere fast, and of course there was a jam all the way down to the colloseum for some Jesus on Ice spectacle. A guy in a light magenta pick-up with the back end open cut in front of me on the way to the exit. Ever impatient, he pushed his way to the front and drove right through the median, but in his haste he hit a bump and a bright and shiny brand new dolley fell out the back and hit the ground. A man with a beard, a belly and a baseball cap came out of his mini-man. He picked up the dolley and put it in his mini-van.


I went to the bookstore today to pick up a copy of Aquinas' Summa Contra Gentiles and I came across a pile of books left on the New Paperbacks counter... books that had no logical place among Reading Lolita in Tehran, and other titles. It was probably a stash collected by some lonely book-lover who had hoarded these books so she could escape into a corner with them. Why would I assume that this person was female. Read below:

  • DSMIV Made Easy
  • DSMIV Training Guide
  • Life of Pi
  • The Lucky Shopping Manual
  • Positive Discipline in the Classroom
  • Natural Ferility and Pregnancy
  • Skills Training Manual for Treating the Borderline Personality Disorder

I don't even want to enter the mind of such a person... nor the classroom. I did read through the little manual for creating a positive learning environment in any classroom and I did come across the idea called the
"Choice Wheel." A wheel to spin around divided in sections, and each section containing one of the following selections. Spin the wheel and choose a consequence... I mean choice:
  • Shake hands and take turns (doing what?)
  • Apologize
  • Walk Away
  • Class Meeting
  • Use an "I" Message
  • Tell Them to STOP
  • Count to Ten to Cool Off
  • Go to Another Game


I'm sitting here trying to work on the next module of the training materials I'm developing. Sipping a cup of tea and eating a piece of Nazook. The buttery pastry and almond paste comforts me as the flowery tea helps wash it down my throat. Yes, it's Saturday, my friends and I am still working. I'm trying to convince myself I'm living fully by playing a movie and writing in this blog periodically while I struggle to push myself through another boring chapter of Accounts Payable.

Last night before I went to sleep I had this notion... that weird and eerie crumply feeling you get when you're a kid and you know that something is wrong. I remembered going to strangers houses usually the house of a friend then walking into the living room where someone was watching some video about the power of angels or sitting at the table before dinner and having to pray with them. Later as a teenager, the feeling would return when other people my age would try to get me to go to 'special youth meetings.' Where I felt that I was being forced to share my inner-most secrets. Nothing seemed private or sacred to them... as you were supposed to reveal yourself to god before their eyes.

And before I went to sleep it seemed so clear to me... when someone who is so religious encounters something that challenges their faith, they must
get that same eerie feeling. That reluctant feeling...But where does this leave me? Because I have no faith other than faith that people must rely on each other. That people are beautiful, and smart... maybe even compassionate...or at least they can be. It then occured to me that I must no longer be afraid of being overpowered.

I work in a place where people are seemingly rational and diligent. People are supposed to do their jobs unquestioningly. Even if it means building a structure which will eventually exclude most of them. They're hoping while in a state of constant denial, that they will be the 'chosen' few who will have fought and claimed the power to stay. Denial seems to be a pretty strong theme in this environment, but then again maybe if they don't see or are aware of what there is to deny then everything will be okay. I wonder what most of them have faith in.

It's actually quite ironic that I'm sitting here today working as I'm doing so because I spent half the day yesterday applying for a job that I have very little chance of being hired for. Yes, you can say it, I am a job slut.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Philosophy Talk - Shot 2

My discussion group decided to meet again, despited the fact that I had a little too much wine last time we met and the conversation wandered again to issues about race and sex. I posted this topic on souls below because at lunch the other day the discussion surrounded how we all felt that we'd prostituted ourselves to the MAN at our jobs. One friend said, "You know maybe not having a soul is that bad... when nothing bothers you, you just seem to be able to get by better."

I took the 60's Star Trek William Shatner monologue & bit up, asserting that you need to experience the bad with the good to be alive... be human and proud of it...faults and all. However, this doesn't mean that I'm willing to say that my work offers me a good balance between bad and good. I'd say 30% of the time I feel happy about what I do and get satisfaction from it. I don't think that that's enough. This is up about 20% from my old job, mainly because I enjoy working with some of the people I'm in contact with and I'm trusted with more and don't have someone hovering over my shoulder. Plus people seem to be pretty darn happy with the work I do, and I feel that I can take some pride in it. However, I don't like the excessive expectations about workload... that and corporate life doesn't leave a lot of room for creative thought.

Call me a spoiled baby. Who cares. I'm happy with who I am, and they can take their 7 Habits For Extremely Fucked Up People and shove it where the sun doesn't shine.
-----------------------
Hey,

I suggest that we have someone leading the discussion.

Emerson Essay “Over-Soul”:
http://www.rwe.org/works/Essays-1st_Series_09_The_Over-Soul.htm

Cliff Notes: “Over-Soul”:
http://www.cliffsnotes.com/WileyCDA/LitNote/id-95,pageNum-21.html

About Emerson:
http://www.seasidechurch.org/Rev__Dr__Christian/Books_Online/Emerson/body_emerson.html

Ideas for discussion (warning some of these may be touchy) – please add any others you can think of. We don’t have to discuss all of these, but they are here for suggestions:


  1. What the heck is Transcendalism?
  2. What is the historical context for the Transcendalist movement in America during Emerson’s time? Why should we care now? How does this compare to some of the movements in understanding existence or defining our own personal religious beliefs?
  3. How does Emerson justify the need for existence of the soul? Why the hell do we have this nagging need to feel connected to things?
  4. How do we (personally) define what a soul is? (No right answer of course)
  5. Why do you think people need to feel or believe that human beings have souls?
  6. Where does the idea of souls fit into perscriptions for morality or living?
  7. Do you think that technology and corporate living has wiped out the idea of the soul? Should it?

I was driving down the street yesterday and I saw a bumper sticker that read “My Karma Ran Over my Dogma?” Best thing I’ve seen in long time on the back of a car.


Thursday, December 02, 2004

Are Gays (and Liberals) to the 21st Century what Jews were to the 20th?

Any similarities here? Of course I'm not suggesting exact parallelism... DUH. So the list of events below may seem harsher than what we see happening today. Still, I think it's good to look at the past as a reminder of what could happen again... and be vigilant and vocal... and hope that this is all wrong and that history does not prove itself to be redundant.

Material pulled from: http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/GERnazigermany.htm

Hitler expresses Anti-Semetic Ideas in Mein Kampf. In this work he associates Jews with all things damaging to what will make the German nation strong. The Jews he asserts are responsible for pornography and prostitution. Things that damage the moral fiber of German society

It becomes acceptable to openly discriminate against Jews. The hostility of towards Jews increased in Germany. This was reflected in the decision by many shops and restaurants not to serve the Jewish population. Placards saying "Jews not admitted" and "Jews enter this place at their own risk" began to appear all over Germany. In some parts of the country Jews were banned from public parks, swimming-pools and public transport.

1933- Nazi Germany begins to deny civil rights to Jews. Beginning with one-day boycott of Jewish-owned shops.

Sturm Abteilung (SA) becomes active in the boycotts on Jewish businesses, their actions pressure people not to purchase materials from the Ullstein Press the largest publisher of newpapers, books and magazines in Germany. In the end they are forced to sell to National Socialist German Workers Party

Jews begin emigrating to other countries (this includes personages such as Albert Einstein and other notable scientists).

The Nuremberg Laws on Citizenship and Race are passed. Jews are no longer considered German citizens and cannot marry Aryans.



I predict that they will try to errode the rights of those who are Gay and Lesbian. It all starts by denying people rights that others within a society have. It starts by denying people a voice and presence. Gradually, slowly they start taking other things away from them such as economic freedom, recognition as an actual group, eventually your identity as a human being is stripped away. They won't be so obvious about it. But it looks like the networks are now being pressured not to run any material that is favorable to gays and lesbians. See link below.

http://www.reuters.co.uk/newsPackageArticle.jhtml?type=worldNews&storyID=631914&section=news

If you are not even starting to become frightened about what's going down right now you need to slap yourself silly.

In the meanwhile I'm including my recipe for Cabbage and Noodles ( an Eastern European Favorite) which is one of my top 10 comfort foods. Plus it's super good with Chicken Paprikash. If you don't want the Caraway seeds, leave them out:

Cabbage & Noodles

1 Small Head of cabbage, shredded (about 6-7 c.)
1 1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp canola oil
2 tbsp raw sugar
1 large yellow onion chopped1 lb quality egg noodles cooked al dente
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tbsp Hungarian paprika
1 tbsp caraway seeds
Salt & Pepper

Salt and toss the shredded cabbage and allow to sit for at least 30 minutes. Press all the cabbage in a ricer to strain as much liquid as possible out. In a large pot heat the oil to medium high and add the sugar. Carmelize the sugar slightly. Add the onion and cook until translucent. Add the cabbage and cook stirring constantly for about 20 minutes. Add the butter and stir until melted and combined in the cabbage. Add your drained egg noodles and paprika and caraway seeds. Salt & pepper to taste.

Ahhhhhh.... cabbage goodness.