Sunday, February 27, 2005

Sorry I've been obsessing so over that damn mouse. The traps remain untouched, so either he's crafty one or he's gone to better pastures. Might have made a cute little Tex Avery cartoon with the little guy (and his friends) dancing to some ragtime jig all over my mini sieves or bouncing off my egg separator and flinging stone pie weights from my measuring spoons.

Last night we watched the Motorcycle Diaries. What a wonderful film. How I emphasized with Che and his asthma. It has been ages since I myself have had an attack, and I do believe that living in a well maintained (aside from the mouse problem) mold free environment has contributed to my improved state of health. I cringed as we watched the main character in the film stumble and gasp for breath. Last year I had a similar episode in the rental I was living in. The only place I felt truly safe from the effect of the airborn pests were on the front porch where I usually would have a very public episode gasping and reeling from my inability to breathe. The scraping gasps of an asthmatic usually frighten or horrify most people, but when you're so desparate for an ounce of air, you really don't care how people react to you. Your focus is tunneled only on the task of breathing successfully. I read somewhere that due to the amount of pollution we've generated, the cases of asthma increase each year.

Guevera was in the end convinced that hate was the empowering emotion that would drive the masses to take over. I think that this is rather shortsighted as hate usually breeds hate and we end up riding the swinging pendulum all over again. As a child influenced by conservatism, I am suspicious of any sort of revolutionary stirrings which incite violence.

I've been thinking thoughts, pinko thoughts again about how we have to be responsible about what we buy and from whom we buy it. I remember balking in irritation at my college roommate who used to chide me for eating cans of tuna and preached that veganism was the only way to salvation of the conscience in this fucked up post modern world. I remember how irritating her soapbox pleas were and how she once drove me to the point where I clandestinely fried a porkchop in her pan. True confession of a sneaky passive agressive. Yes, it was wrong, but it felt good at the time.

I don't think that preaching is a very good way of getting your point across. Never have thought it to be a good method of convincing people, but then again I've had an almost life-long distrust of missionaries of any sort. Why is it that I find most people who push their agenda regardless of whether it is green or religious highly annoying despite the fact that I may agree strongly with some of the things they say. I agreeed with my former room-mate that there was a definite shadiness surrounding the fact that the American Beef Industry is one of the biggest funders of the American Heart Association, and I agree with most Christians that the main tenet of Christ's teachings (something about caring for those who are less fortunate) is an important part of social responsibility. With this in mind, I made a solemn resolution not avoid shopping in places that are highly corporate or owned by corporations that do not support middle class and smaller businesses. I decided that I could buy items (but less of them) from local shops or businesses rather than opting for going to the One-stop "Meglo-mart." Then the thought occurred to me... maybe it's too late. Maybe the Meglo stores and corporations have won. Not to long after I entertained this thought I saw on the news that the largest retailer just bought our beloved Meier and Frank and that the department store's name would now be replaced with Bloomingdales. I think for most of us it would be very difficult to really avoid all products of "the establishment." You simply just need to do what you have to do. Yes, Smallhead-mart employs countless people, but are they ALL better off now that they work there? Can you really trust companies that advertise their 'humanitarian' side because they give certain employees insurance to get kidney transplants for their ill children. Shouldn't they be doing this anyway?

This is my choice. Whether or not it has a larger impact on society and politics, who knows, but I'm just doing what I can. Years ago, I used to shun the idea of boycotting products which come from the Machine and THE MAN. I used to think, stupid hippies who smell of cheap Myrrh and patchouli. You think you can make the world better with your quinoa and tempeh casseroles. You will weave a world of loving hemp, but your efforts are futile in a world run by the Machine. So now why have I had such a change of heart about responsible consumerism? Maybe the argument was there all along, and I chose not to listen to the messengers because I could not connect with them. This is important to note in a world where we feeling increasingly disconnected. Those who can influence and bring connections to people emotionally, mentally, ideologicially will control or at least push the Machine in their direction.

Little we know, but we can be "The Invisible Hand" if we choose to be. But the corporations will probably just find a way to masque who they are and what they're selling. The already do it today whether it's the environmentally friendly washproducts you can get at Targ or the healthy Mexican restaurants put out by McMonsters.

Living responsibly by consuming discriminately? Do I think it will actually work. Maybe I'm just riding the wave of popular reform. Obviously, there's a market for conscientious consumerism out there.


http://www.metaefficient.com/metaefficient/archives/clothing/index.html

By the way, I don't think I could ever bring myself to make a composting toilet or water my plants with my pee... sorry. Just uptight about these kind of things.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Mouse Watch - Day 1

I still haven't returned the contents of my utensil drawer to their proper place. I just can't. I'm waiting and watching to make sure the little critter doesn't come back to do his scatty dance all over my precious tools again. I really don't have too much of a problem with the guy if he (assuming that he's male) stays outdoors or I'd even tolerate him romping around my garage. But he's crossed the line and trampled on the things I love dearly, and the equipment I use to prepare the food that we eat. Things that we put IN OUR MOUTHS. Uhhhhhhh.... the horror I felt to discover those lavender sized little black nuggets all over my measuring cups and rolling pin jacket still rings fresh. No, this mouse had definitely crossed a line and I would not tolerate it. No, I'm sorry, but I'd make a terrible Buddhist.

I'm sure J finds my reaction to having discovered vermin in our house amusing. After all, I'd battled with roaches the size of a Happy Meal toy in my apartment in NY. I didn't flinch on the occasion when stove started to mysteriously shake and rumble when I sprayed bug spray in my kitchen. No, actually, I got up and ran out of the room. Somehow, I got the dumb idea that maybe if I pointed the creepy crawly things to my cat, he'd taken them on, but they failed to inspire that killer instinct that cats were most famous for. Though what I wouldn't give to have that cat around here now. He'd show that mouse. Sure, J finds my agonizing and obsession with the mouse entertaining, but he simply does not understand that I grew up in the sterile and mouse-free environment of a suburban home. No mold, no mites, just 100% clean heat pump air.

J. set two traps one between the refrigerator and the counter where the mouse left his incriminating evidence and the other was placed inbetween that same section of the counter and the stove. I thought I heard a snap in the middle of the night. But the mouse still eludes us.

Friday, February 25, 2005

eek, a mouse

J asked me to look in the utensil drawer and see if I had spilled some suspicious looking black seeds over the pastry towel. I pulled the drawer open and to my horror it was a mouse poo playground in there. I spent a good amount of time scrubbing each utensil with warm soapy water then washing them all again in the dishwasher. Normally, I don't like using bleach, but I cleaned out the drawer with water and a little bleach and let it sit to dry. It wasn't such a big deal to him because he grew up in an old house in the country. "My dad used to give me 50 cents a mouse head to catch them," he noted proudly. The first time I ever saw a mouse outside of someone's pet cage was when I was student teaching in a kindergarten class in New York. The kids shrieked in both joy and horror when they found a little creature floating in the water table like a corpse in the East River. Children in the City freak when they see 'wildlife' or natural specimens of any sort. I was suprised to see the childrens' wondrous reaction one day when I'd brought in a collection of ponderosa pinecones from my parent's backyard. In this case many of them weren't to phased to find dead wildlife. Still, the neurotic yet motherly side of me reared it's ugly head as a particularly curious boy leaned over the table and reached out to touch the floating mouse. "Don't you even dare touch it!" I snapped almost involuntarily shuddering with disgust at the same time. It's a dirty, dirty, filthy creature, I thought. Plus, it's dead. The little boy drew his hand back instantly, most likely a little shocked from the tenor of my voice. I was usually pretty calm and quiet with these kids. From that day on I seemed to notice mice everywhere. They would skitter around the floor in a friends apartment. Very small, seedy grey critters. If I didn't have my contacts in and I'd catch a glimpse of them scurrying away they looked more like little grey matchbox cars racing across the floor... or cockroaches with grey fur. Let's just say, I'm not a real big fan of rodentia... except for maybe a capyabara but that's about the size of a large dog.

As a result of all this mouse hullaballoo I did get to do something helpful and actually soothing. I was able to sort through my various kitchen utensils. When I see my nutmeg grinder, I am reminded that we haven't had baked custard for dessert. The set of rippled square biscuit cutters reminds me that we may need to make beignets with cinnamon and sugar for breakfast. My ravioli press tells me that I may have to bring out the hand crank pasta maker and make some butternut squash and hazelnut ravioli before the winter's end. I see my old citrus zester and remember that it's been rather dull lately and I may need to get a new one to replace it. Then suddenly, I'm overcome with a craving for lemon curd on toast. Each piece of equipment in this drawer is part of a treasury of food pleasures and memories. And to think, it took the droppings of a little mouse to remind me how important these things are to me.

Super Calzone and S & S Meatballs

Two picks for this week. One quick and dirty but delicious and the other takes some effort (1 1/2 - 2 hours prep and cook with all the interruptions) but Mama Mia Haole Dagos, Batman! These meatballs have to be the best by far. I actually make them at least once a year. Actually, they might be a great treat to serve with a Tiki themed dinner. No, I prefer my sweet and sour sauce to look more like ketchup than some carcinogen loaded day-glo red #5 slime. The recipe comes from Body & Beauty Foods - a five dollar bargain I picked up from some bookstore sale pile. The calzone was actually my S.O.'s creation.

Super Calzone (from leftovers)
-Makes 1 large calzone. Can feed 3 very hungry individuals or 4 with moderate appetites. This is a great option if you don't have a lot of time and you live within driving distance of a Trader Joes. Their pizza dough is fairly decent for what it is.

1 portion ready made pizza dough (from Trader Joes)
1/2 package sliced salami
1/2 lb smoked turkey lunchmeat
1 c. spinach leaves washed, dried and packed
1/2 small can of sliced black olives
1 1/2 c. shredded mozzarella or provalone
2-3 gloves of pressed garlic
1/2 container of Pomi marinara sauce.
3 tbsps olive oil

Salt & freshly ground pepper
Cornmeal

If you have a pizza stone use just cornmeal to keep the calzone from sticking.

Preheat oven to 400F
Saute the garlic lightly in 1 tbsp of the oil.
Grease the cookie sheet with grapeseed oil
Sprinkle cornmeal lightly but evenly on the cookie sheet. Form a circle from the pizza dough. Lay it out and brush it generously with olive oil. On one half of the circle starting with the garlic, layer each of the ingredients. I try to keep the spinach in the middle. Fold over your dough and seal the ends tight by folding them and pinching them tight. Slice a flew small slits on the top and bake in the oven for 30 minutes. Make sure to watch your dough to make sure that it's not over done. Remove from the oven and allow to cool 10 minutes before serving.


Sweet and Sour Turkey Meatballs

There really isn't anything Asian about these meatballs, but somehow they are super delicious. Must be the lemon, herbs and sundried tomatoes. I guess this is a more mediterranean version of Sweet and Sour.

1 lb (450 g) lean, ground turkey
4 shallots finely chopped
1 clove of garlic crushed (I use two)
1 1/4 cs (115g) finely chopped mushrooms
2 tsp dried herbes de Provence
finely grated rind of 1 lemon
1 c. whole wheat breadcrumbs (we didn't have whole wheat so we used matzoh crumbs)
2 tbsp. sundried tomato paste
Sea salt
Freshly ground pepper
Whole wheat flour for dusting
1 tbsp olive oil.

S & S Sauce
1 tbsp cornstarch
4 tbsp red wine (marsala works well also)
1 14 oz. can of peeled chopped tomatoes (pureed).
2/3 c unsweetened apple juice
2 tbsp red wine vinegar (I used 1 tbsp basalmic mixed with 1 tbsp applecider vinegar)
2 tbsp brown sugar (I like it on the sweet end so I used 3)
Fresh organo and thyme to garnish.

To make the meatballs, put the meatball ingredients except flour and oil in a bowl and mix thoroughly. Roll the meatball mixture into 28 small balls. Sprinkle the flour on a plate and role each meatball in the flour. Place on a plate, cover and chill for 20 minutes. Meanwhile make the sweet and sour sauce. Blend the cornstarch with the red wine: then put in a saucepan with all the remaining sauce ingredients and stir. Bring to a boil stirring constantly; then reduce the heat and simmer gently while frying the meatballs. Preheat the oven to 350F. Heat the oil in a skillet and fry the meatballs over a medium heat for 5-10 mintues, turning them frequently, until lightly browned all over. Transfer the meatballs into a large, shallow ovenproof dish. Pour the sauce over the meatballs. Cover and bake for about 45 minutes until the meatballs are cooked. Garnish with fresh herbs and serve with hot mashed potatoes and steamed veggies.

We actually served them on top of beds of jasmin rice.

Speaking of Haoles, Dagos and other derogatory terms, if you ever need to look up the spelling of any Un-PC terminology here's the place to go.

http://www.rsdb.org/

Some of the terms on this list are a little unnerving, but then again as Americans we have a love-hate relationship with racism in humor. It was interesting that at the bottom of the list you yourself could contribute a racial slur. The submit button was labled "Submit Hate." I myself have been referred to as a twinkie, banana, flipper, gook (by the more uneducated racists), chink (by folks who just can't tell the difference), and my favorite... dogeater. Yes, it's wrong to ever refer to people like this in serious conversation, but if you can't determine when's the right time or the wrong time to be fascinated with the politically incorrect, then maybe you should shampoo repeatedly and follow instructions as 4 out of 5 consumers recommend.

Though I must admit that what I found rather disturbing where the actual numbers of slurs per racial/ethnic group. Here are some initial stats from when I viewed this site. Might say something, but gee, I wouldn't know what that means. (Who has the most racial hangups or issues with whom).

African Americans/Blacks -565
Americans/Whites - 345
Mexicans/Hispanics- 132
Asians - 121 (not including Japanese, Chinese, Filipino or other specific ethnicities)
Mixed Races - 112
Arabs - 102

WTF?

Mak had this posted on her site:


Would anyone want to bang you? by phobia
Name:
Favorite Food:
Wants to Bang you:
This many times:162
Quiz created with MemeGen!


WHO IS THIS DUDE? I'm just not up on my 80's Trivia... I was in a coma for the entire decade.


This is wrong...
Though I like the concept. It's kinda like MASH (Mansion Apartment Shack House), the little girls game where you pick your future husband with a tally count on a piece of paper.

Your Husband Generator by Lady_Galadriel
Name
Your Husband Is
You Metat a stag party
You Have3 children
You Liveafrica
Ina farm house
You And Your Partner Are Best Known Forthe saucy picture you did for maxim
Quiz created with MemeGen!

Thursday, February 24, 2005

While we're on the subject of really bad interior decor and style

I have to go back to one of my favorite sites: lileks.com every now and then to have a good laugh.

Some of the more memorable images:

Freaky Deaky Door - sort of a Willy Wonka meets Silence of the Lambs theme with the colors from the opening animated spot of the "Nanny" (the show from the late 60's early 70's with the blond English Nanny - not Fran Drescher).
http://lileks.com/institute/interiors/71book/9.html

The Passion Pit? - I think I might sustain an injury while watching television in bed.
http://lileks.com/institute/motel/blue1.html

New Mascot for Phillip Morris- There are many more scary little creatures featured here, a caricature of an old man made of meat and potatoes, etc., but I really love this collage of smoking paraphenalia down to the pipecleaner hair.

http://lileks.com/institute/dayalets/4.html

Speaking of 70's chic... I recently completed a Dr. Who Scarf for J. Who has been dying to have one. I found the pattern here and I've included the text below. I used the Peruvian Highland blend yarn from elann.com (what a shameless advertisement, but hey I was happy with the product). I couldn't get all of the colors needed for the scarf, but was able to make a few substitutions using scraps from my trusty yarn basket. Colors I used in substitution for those below were the butterscotch, harvest orange, oregano, eggplant, dark grey, maroon, light brown, and forest green. I haven't quoted the names of the colors accurately here, but you get the picture. Also, being who I am I didn't follow the pattern to the letter. I know -for shame, but knowing the character of the Good Doctor and how he seemed to celebrate imperfections I thought it was appropriate.


Dr. Who Scarf:
Here is the official BBC pattern: use no.9 American needles, and start by casting on 60 stitches. Always slip the first stitch of each row. Knit rows in the following order:
8 purple
52 camel
16 bronze
10 mustard
22 rust
8 purple
20 green
8 mustard
28 camel
14 rust
8 bronze
10 purple
42 green
8 mustard
16 grey
8 rust
54 camel
10 purple
12 green
8 mustard
18 rust
8 purple
38 bronze
10 camel
8 grey
40 rust
14 mustard
20 green
8 purple
42 camel
12 bronze
20 grey
8 rust
12 purple
6 camel
14 mustard
54 green
16 rust
12 grey
8 mustard
20 bronze
10 purple
12 camel
32 grey
10 rust
16 mustard

you'll need: 6oz wool of camel, 4 oz of greenish brown, 4 oz of rust, 4 oz of bronze, 3 oz each of purple, grey and mustard.
afterwards: make 7 tassels of each end, each made up of 1 foot strands of each of the 7 colours.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Yesterday, we were out having a beer with friends and someone noted how astonished she was when she discovered that over 50% of people believed that we were placed on this planet (by a diety) in the form we exist as today – basically 100% homo sapiens not allowing for evolution of any sort (for the more ridgid conservatives all sapiens and no homo). She was reluctant to believe that this was true as well as that it was possible for published polls to have an effect on how she felt or thought. Another friend noted, that’s exactly how it works. Although our very astute friend may not be swayed by the assertions of a poll; many people are still swayed by the notion that a ‘quantifiable’ survey had been taken and this is proof enough in the veracity of a point. What exactly are the sources of all these polls regarding the president’s approval rating? Hopefully they’re not from those pop-up ads that come up when you open up a News site that say: “Do You Think Bush Should Have Won?” Or “Is Michael Guilty?” Just ask yourself who exactly would click on these pop-up ads instead of closing them on the spot?

What worries me is the sheer manipulation of public opinion by the neocons and how they blatantly blurt out lies (example: Bill O’Reilly’s rephrasing of Barbara Boxer’s assertions during the Rice Hearings claiming that Boxer questioned Rice's "respect for the troops" instead of her “respect for the truth.” And he dismisses this error over and over again. I guess O’Reilly, like Coulter has adopted the technique of repeating lies enough times until their willing public will accept them as the truth.

O'Reilly's shameless boo boo:
http://mediamatters.org/items/200502010001

Coulter Swallows her whole leg:
http://www.commondreams.org/views05/0206-23.htm

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Bali Ho

I have room in our home that I’ve designated as our “Tiki Room.” Actually, this is our guest bedroom. I’ve been in search of surf culture, and tacky Polynesian(and Oriental trade) items to place in this room. I was able to find some fake tropical flowers from Cost-Plus, along with a selection of inexpensive faux tropical foilage, and with J’s Ma’s help was able to put together a beautiful but whimsically tacky arrangement in a tall ceramic container. Every now and then I spray the room Gardenia fragrance spray I found somewhere in New York. Faux paradise is better than no paradise.

The Tiki Heads below are my first attempt to add some live greenery to the room.

Tiki Idol Heads:

Materials
Tiki Head Mugs or glasses (preferably shorter in height and wider in diameter)
Wheatgrass seeds
Potting Soil

Fill the mug or glass, leaving 1 inch space to the rim. Plant your seeds evenly and cover with soil. Cover the glass with plastic wrap and leave on your kitchen counter or in a safe spot until the seeds begin to sprout. Once most of the seeds have sprouted (3-5 days) move to an area where they will get some sun.

Since you are using containers that do not have a drainage hole be careful not to over water. Dampen the soil before you plant the seeds but make sure not to over-soak them. Also when you’re watering use a spray bottle and spray the plant until the soil is just damp.

Monday, February 14, 2005

It's All About You

As you may know I’m not a big fan of Valentine’s Day because for the most part it is a day meant to encourage the purchase of goods via emotional manipulation and guilt. I’m all about giving and getting gifts, but I prefer to give them because I feel like doing so. I feel that it’s wonderful to show your appreciation of people simply because you adore them, love them, or value their friendship, but you don’t need a special day to do this. More, Valentines Day has become a celebration of the haves and have nots… People who are in relationships (happy or not) have something to look forward to on this day… maybe a dinner which is not microwaved, some flowers, butterscotch flavored body oil and a massage… oh and maybe…sex. People who are not in relationships don’t get to go home an look forward to this.

Regardless of our relationship status I think we should do something to celebrate ourselves today. Indulge in a little self love instead of drinking or wallowing in self-pity or loneliness. You are your best asset and besides what good are you to a relationship future or present unless you actually love and value yourself as a person.

You probably know how to make this already, but this is my perscription for indulging in a moment self love.

Hot chocolate with peppermint schnapps or cinnamon
1 c + 1 tbsp whole milk
1 ½ tbsp powdered cocoa (I use Dutch processed)
2 ½ tbsp powdered sugar

1/8 tsp cinnamon or 2 tbsps peppermint schnapps

Combine the cocoa and powdered sugar in a heat proof mug until the sugar and chocolate are well mixed. If you’re adding the cinnamon add it now. Add 1 tbsp of the milk to this mixture and stir until you have a paste. Heat the milk in a saucepan until scalded. Pour into the mug and stir. If you’re using the Peppermint Schnapps add it all.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Looking for cheap lighting tricks and other handy decor tips

Just finished baking a batch of madelines to bring over to some friends for tea. I'm searching the net for ideas to put into motion in the home. I'm having somewhat of a brief reprieve between projects at work so it's probably a good idea to put more focus on the domestic front.

I need to see the mess in my house.
I'm not sure any of these go with the theme in our home which is more mid-century modern but I thought the ideas were novel, simple and inexpensive enough to merit some consideration. Some of these lighting & lamp ideas would make great decor for theme parties such as:

Flower Lights:
http://www.craftster.org/forum/index.php?topic=1749.0

Moodlighting- Futurism for Cheap-cheap:
http://www.craftster.org/forum/index.php?topic=1610.0

But if you're looking for more permanent solutions:

An Industrial Chandelier:

I think you have to be really secure about your choices in accent pieces and furniture to make something like this work. I know about as much about interior design as I do about the stock market, but I'm learning that creating good decor/atmosphere has a lot to do with achieving harmony and balance in the choices of the pieces that we feature in our homes. More, it's much better if the things you choose are really things that appeal to you. I've seen attempts to create this sort of aesthetic using parts found at Grover Plumbing & Lighting, and http://www.craftster.org/forum/index.php?topic=804.0 . While, it's pretty neat to look at, I'm not sure that it's me.

Oriental umbrella lamp:
http://www.craftster.org/forum/index.php?topic=11297.0


You know I think I had another spice rack idea floating around here somewhere, but this one is just plain genius (thought up by someone on craftster - http://www.craftster.org/forum/index.php?topic=18288.0 ) Make a magnetic spice set for the refrigerator!

I need shelving and storage in a bad way!
Also, I'm on the lookout for some painted metal washtubs to solve my need for a place to store all my sweaters. The latest issue of Ready Made had a great article with how-to's on functional storage units. One idea was to use metal washtubs secure to the wall as hutches for sweaters. I thought that what i'd try to do is get at least 3 washtubs of different sizes and colors and secure them to the wall in a staggered fashion so they look like randomly placed polka dots. Small sweaters-short sleeved in the smallest bin which will hang on the highest level. The largest tub at the bottom will hold the heavy winter chunky knits. The magazine has detailed instructions on how to safely secure the tubs to the wall.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Say goodbye to the most effective means of corporate reform:

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=10000103&sid=a_k.akCUqR1o&refer=us

Want to know who's linking to you? Are you alone in your geekdom?

I feel like a drone... just falling into the viral marketing trap of whom ever set up this get up:

Who Links Here


I found the tool above from "Greedy Girl." She's got a lot of interesting information on the whole blog marketing phenomenon. I've been meaning to read more about this.

http://www.greedygirl.com/index.php?cat=2

Honestly, I think that blogs are to the new milennia what protest was to the 60's & 70's. I've come to believe that people for the most part have this need to be affirmed, and identify with others. Blogworld has become a medium for doing this. The "who links to me" tool above proves this as what would be a better way of finding people who identify with you than to look for people who link to your site. Either that or they want to prove how ridiculous they think you are (but I don't think most people are that spiteful - I hope). There are countless vanity quizes that tell you which butt-rock band embodies your spirit or what book your personality most resembles. These are all tools and ploys to get individuals to link to their sites.

More, people's need to for items that interest (freak) them drives the wave of forwarded links. I think that and reality television help assauge the need for a good old fashioned freak-show. There's much power in viral net marketing. The statement made on the Superbowl episode of the Simpson's attests to this (Homer's fame spreads from the digitized video clip of him making and ass of himself at a carnival). Remember the Star Wars Kid? I actually think there was a reference to him on the Simpson's as well. Wouldn't it be great to write a movie scenario based on this phenomenon? I guess it falls under the realm of unlikely hero. Though his story is actually quite sad and probably points out why our drive for freak-show material is inherently wrong, as it doesn't figure in the emotional cost towards the individual who is being freakified. Apparently the Star Wars kid dropped out of school and was placed in a juvenille psycheward. I also read that his family place a law suit on thekids (their parents) who put the video up on the web. Though there is a lighter side of the story as well... it turns out that fellow geeks rallied in support of the lad. Webloggers took in a collection for the infamous Star Wars kid. As one of the organizers put it:

"The outpouring of support has been staggering, far beyond what I ever expected," wrote Baio on his site. "Geeks like us need to stick together."

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Some cool useless thing to do with your television set

http://www.craftster.org/forum/index.php?topic=18605.0

Strange... concept... I dont' think I could collect this many toilet paper rolls, but it sounds like a conceptual art project.

Browsing through the crafster site and seeing all the cool knitting projects reminded me of this project I did years ago.. but I substituted yarn listed with the craft yarn you get in the convenience store and used size 8 needles US. The result, a larger, leaner, longer teddy... but just as cute.

http://www.knitting-and.com/knitting/patterns/toys/beanbear.htm

From an article:
Modern woman’s quest to manipulate her society with her crippled perception about her "hardship" has influenced most Western nations. It is seen in the legalization of her false image as a minority and victim. The feminist spirit impregnates her land with selfishness, complacency, apathy and dependency leading men into bondage. Her world consists of worshiping the idol of her own image. She seeks absolution from her sins through secular counseling, bringing her to a false sense of contentment and security.


I was just reading these from an article on-line. Not sure why I got here to this site… think it’s because I was led there by an article on Edward Teller as the real Dr. Strangelove.
http://www.lewrockwell.com/barnhart/barnhart26.html


Suddenly feminism has been associated with selfishness. And womens’ desire for independence and to be seen as equals to men. The reality is women are not treated equally under the current system of law and justice. Women still are victims of physical violence and domestic abuse. Women under the ‘old regime’ often had no choice but to marry whether that marriage be to someone who was supportive or abusive. For those unlucky gals who happened to end up in a marriage that was abusive, they had to stick it through thick and thin just as the author of the essay above suggests… that women must endure their lot and this is what makes them strong and beautiful. If anything, women who have the right to choose whom and if they wish to marry, are empowered to make decisions which will be healthy for themselves and their children.

As of the last count, I haven’t led any men into bondage. I had until recently considered myself very fortunate that I was able to make the choices I could regarding my life and my relationships because I felt that I had the freedom to do so. I was in two situations with men in which I could have married and if things had run their ‘traditional’ course. In one instance I would have had a child with that individual. He had not interest in getting married, and eventually, I saw that it would be futile to press the issue, we were growing apart and our values regarding work, ethics, and domestic issues clashed. I don’t think that this is the ideal situation for raising a child or cultivating a marriage or partnership, but most conservatives are convinced that you can shove a square peg into a round role, so in their eyes I failed to make the relationship succeed. In mine I achieved personal success because I left myself open to finding happiness on my own terms. When you’re young and get involved in a relationship sometimes you don’t see the warning signs that the person will not be compatible with you in the long run.

I consider myself very lucky, very happy now to be in a very loving partnership with someone right now. He’s been a springboard for my imagination and ideas, and I feel that I can express myself freely and even learn from our disagreements with each other, and I wouldn’t trade what I have with this person for all the tax shelters and stock options in the world. For me, I’ve come to cherish the notion that you are in control of yourself and your destiny. You cannot let society, organizations, others coerce you into choosing your path. If others are perfectly happy living lives under the guidance of others, by society, by religion, or even by government. Then that’s their privilege; however, we must always insure that people have the right to make those choices rather than force them upon others.

Perhaps this is why I will eventually need to leave this place in which I work.

On another note... Michael Jackson trial is coming soon. I thought that viewing the courtroom re-enactment might be entertaining if they used sock puppets. I must be sick... like a shut-in kid, I resort to some lame-ass arts and crafts project to keep myself occupied.

I'm at home sick again today. I'm starting to wonder if my illness is being caused by my state of mind. I'd like to swig some Victory Gin, but my body tells me flatly - NO. So I listen to my body. Every Monday morning like clockwork, I come into consciousness about a half hour before the alarm clock is set to go off. I awake with this low feeling in my bowels, a sentiment sparked by fear of anticipation not unlike that felt by a small child or puppy who knows they're about to be smacked for something they did wrong. No, I'm really sick today... swollen glands, sore muscles.

I'm sick but I'm still going to work... from home. I'd rather be here writing.

I spoke to my mother a few weeks ago, and she noted that an classmate of mine from Chicago (daughter of one of her best friends from medical school) switched from a government reseach job to private sector and working for a drug company. She works 12 hour days now, nearly seven days a week. She's tired, burnout and frustrated and not even 34. Her mother asked mine, "Is this the 'progress and prosperity' our children have to look forward to?" She doesn't have children and neither do I, Is that a coincidence? I'm not the kind of girl that fancies herself a mother, but I know that I would never have children under these conditions... it would kill me or drive me completely insane... not to mention be detrimental to the child.

The right doesn't need a Junior Anti-Sex League to get their job done... just allow corporations to work people to the bone, they won't have any time to have kids, let alone sex. Women who want to have children will most likely have to drop out of the workforce under these conditions... and what about the men? Working long hours does not for good family cohesion make. I don't care how many stupid Steven Covey books about building your family that you read. You're only convincing yourself that you have freedom, when you actually don't.

I look at nostaligic ads from the 50's that depict people in sprawling cadillacs, men in golf cardigans poised to swing their clubs and the rapture on their faces that only comes from idle prosperity... I think these jackasses knew what it was like to go home at 5:00PM regular... I see women in shiny kitchens in tropico colors with brightly lit smiles and perfectly pleated skirts (of course the stuff they made - especially when it was from General Mills & Jello products wasn't exactly Gore-met). I suppose all of this is just an illusion of what the paradise of leisure and home could be like back then. This was an era where denial was a big part of one's way of life. But still I get pissed off because I feel that as a generation we've been cheated from most of this unless we've made it into the ranks of those who make over $250 grand a year... and even then, I think of the awful price in time and one's life it takes to make this amount of money.

Calm, calm... this isn't a good way to start the day. I will think good thoughts... better thoughts.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

From my earliest memory until about the age of eight, I really only wanted to eat from two food groups: bread and sweets. It makes sense for most children to have their palates restricted to these things as in nature bland and sweet foods are usually edible, and bitter tastes herald poisons. What child doesn’t find starchy dishes comforting? To me they were ‘safe’ foods because you could almost always predict how they would taste. And they were often part of dishes that were given to aid comfort. Milk toast, noodles and butter, rice and milk, dumplings in chicken soup were all bland and comforting dishes I looked forward to. I wouldn’t complain if someone sprinkled a little onion or dried parsley on top of these things. Once in a while I would take bits of smoked salted fish on my rice. My father would laugh when my mother would cave in and put milk and butter on top of my rice. “That’s how Puti eat rice,” he’d say. Puti being slang in our family for white people. My mother insisted that I’d been fed the stuff as a toddler by my elderly babysitter Mrs. Gunther, and Mrs Gunther could do no wrong in my eyes so this became my preferred way of eating rice.

My family would, on occasion, make their version of steamed meat buns or Hum Bao. Hum Bao, a Chinese or Asian pastry made of plain steamed white flour dough wrapped around barbeque pork meat, probably entered the culinary consciousness of most Americans when it was introduced to them from the Costco freezers along with frozen potstickers as a quick and easy Asian food. Wrap the Hum Bao in a paper towel, pop it in the microwave for a minute or two and you have half a meal ready to go. The Hum Bao dough made from my aunt’s recipe wasn’t as fluffy as most would prefer. After steaming, you could run your fingertips over the surface of the buns and find that the cooking process had rendered it shiny and mildly dimpled like the skin of an orange. I detested the filling, a preparation of pork sweetened with a little brownsugar and mixed with chopped egg and a few raisins. Of course, I had the habit of eating around the bun and leaving the filling behind, but my mother would often refuse to give me a bun unless I ate the entire thing… eggs and raisins in all. I found myself so conflicted because I loved the bun so much, but couldn’t bring myself to stomach the filling. Raisins were hardly bearable on their own and tolerable when found in an oatmeal cookie, but the chalky texture of eggs overcooked until the yolk was pea-grey and their sulfury taste was more than I could swallow. Most savory foods held just as much appeal for me. I found often found myself burying my meat with rice or wrapping bits of hotdog in pockets of white bread. I am still convinced that Wonder baked the bread to the tastes of children as well as put it in a bag that reminded them of the clown colors from the circus, so that they would kick and scream in the grocery until their parents finally placed a loaf in the cart. Bread was king and I would do anything that I could to get even a lump of the Hum Bao dough for myself. I loved sneaking a few lumps of the dough and sneaking meatless buns into the steamer. I eventually developed a system of marking my buns with a clove then sneaking them from the container with a washcloth before I was discovered. Sometimes I’d loose one of my doughy treasures in the mix with all the rest, my father would inevitably bite into it and mutter an astonished curse or two.

For most of my early childhood I was content to dine on plain foods… then suddenly, I discovered steak.

To be continued…

I just spoke to a friend of mine who is still working in the foetid department which I escaped from last summer. The manager (who would have been my manager) tried his best to dissuade her from leaving the group by hinting that if she stayed, she would be promoted a notch. Then he proceeded to lay out all the negatives for moving to another group. After endless badgering in and effort to know her 'intentions,' my friend finally let them know, she would proceed with the interviews for another job. With that, the manager quickly and spitefully noted that they would pass the promotion on to someone else.

What does this say about a manager or leader when the best tactic they have to keep someone is to show how horrible the outside world is? On top of this her manager insists on popping in her cube periodically to note why she is making a mistake.

What an ass.

I can count my lucky stars that I no longer work for this group. I can only think of several ways to torture such an individual for his horrible behavior towards his employees.

- Bring in a large Durian fruit and open it next to his cubicle. (Bring noseplugs for yourself if you must)
- Everytime he comes in play Ooompah band music on your headsets to drown out his voice
- Correct him in a staff meeting everytime he makes a grammatical error
- Make him repeat himself by asking him to do so after

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Chicken Marsala for Two

I had been craving this for a few weeks now and I just discovered that Trader Joes has a decent Marsala for cooking for almost $4.00 a bottle. It's quite a deal. I'm thinking of trying to make some Zabiglione later this week. The fresh sage came from our garden. The herbes de Provence may be a little unorthodox, but I can't get enough of the stuff.

2 large boneless and skinless free range chicken breasts
Salt & Freshly ground pepper
2 tbsp herbes de Provence
2 tbsp unbleached flour
4 tbsp grapeseed oil
2 tbsp chopped fresh sage
1 tsp butter
1/2 lb. crimini mushrooms, sliced
2/3 c. Dry Marsala wine
2/3 c. Chicken broth
Salt to taste

Salt and pepper, then coat the chicken breasts with the herbes de Provence and flour. Reserve the loose flour and herbs for the sauce. In a skillet heat the grapeseed oil to medium high heat. Fry the breasts in the oil. Fry until cooked all the way through. Trick to cooking the chicken without allowing it to get tough is using the grapeseed oil with its high smokepoint. Most cooking oils, including vegetable oils and olive oil have lower smokepoints and can start smoking a catch aflame when you raise the temperature. Frying the meat on a higher heat allows you to cook the chicken quickly, seal in the flavor and renders it more tender. The chicken should have a golden brown coating. Place the chicken in a dish and cover with foil and set aside. In the remaining grease in the pan with the heat on medium, add the butter and sage. Allow the butter to melt. Add the mushrooms and cook until mushrooms are somewhat tender. Then add remaining flour and herbs and continue to cook for a few more minutes. Add the chicken broth and wine stir then and raise the heat. Cook the mushrooms and wine for a few more minutes until sauce is somewhat reduced. Place the chicken breasts on a bed of rice or egg noodles. Pour the mushroom sauce over the breasts and serve with steamed vegetables.

Ooops... I must be tired I just caught the breast comment above. I'm tired... it's nearly my bedtime.

Monday, February 07, 2005

No Doublespeak for Chocolate

I found a rather interesting article today posted by a columnist who has pledged to watching the language used in current events for evidence doublespeak or manipulation of words to assert politically motivated agendas.

http://www.workingforchange.com/article.cfm?ItemID=18491

Interestingly enough, George Orwell did not coin the term Doublespeak. It was created most likely in Orwellian fashion to describe a language deliberately constructed to disguise its actual meaning, usually from governmental, military, or corporate institutions.

I recently re-read the classic 1984 and discovered how grateful it made me feel to have been born in an era and country where thought is relatively (and hopefully will continue to be) free. In the novel, Orwell's description of the scarcity of everyday items we take for granted has always left an indelible impression on me. Chocolate, coffee, sugar... razors. I am not a big fan of chocolate myself, but I found myself stopping in the midst of reading the book to make a cup of hot cocoa from cocoa powder, sugar and hot milk. I didn't even bother to shake some cinnamon into the concoction as I usually do, as I wanted to enjoy the pure flavor of the chocolate difused in the creamy texture of warm whole milk.

Even before he had taken it he knew by the smell that it was very unusual chocolate. It was dark and shiny, and was wrapped in silver paper. Chocolate normally was dullbrown crumbly stuff that tasted, as nearly as one could describe it, like the smoke of a rubbish fire. But at some time or another he had tasted chocolate like the piece she had given him. The first whiff of its scent had stirred up some memory which he could not pin down, but which was powerful and troubling.

-George Orwell, 1984

Age of Flanders?

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6896292/

Is Ned Gay? (I doubt it...)
http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/content/news_syndication/article_050118simpsons.shtml

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Hidden Valley Horrible

When it comes to taste and texture, nothing irritates me more than rancid, oops I meant… ranch dressing. Some numbnuts accidentally spilled some into the cream cheese cannister here at work and my bagel ended up tasting of the nastiness. When I order buffalo wings the stuff usually is the first to get tossed in the trash (no one else I know likes it either). Why is it that everyone has to cover, no smother their food with this white sludge? I see people pouring it over their slices of pizza with rapture. I’ve seen them dousing a piece of baked chicken or drowning healthy vegetables with the stuff. To me, the traditional ranch dressing always seems to taste like Elmers glue with chopped dill mixed into it.

I was curious as to the origin of the dressing, and found that it was invented, of course, by the man who started the Hidden Valley ® Ranch in the 1950’s, Steve Henson – no relation to the Muppet master, Jim. The signature flavors of the dressing include dill, onion and garlic powder and buttermilk. But the real secret to Ranch and possibly the reason why it’s so beloved is the copious amounts of mayonaise that must be added to give it that sloppy texture. I did find a dry recipe (for Ranch Dressing mix) online:
http://www.netcooks.com/recipes/Salads/Homemade.Ranch.Dressing.Mix.html
They didn’t mention that you should grind up the crackers before mixing them with the other dry ingredients.

For those of you who don’t care for Ranch here’s another option:

Imogene’s all purpose salad dressing (serves 2)
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 small garlic clove, chopped fine
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp chopped fresh tarragon (1 tsp dried) -optional if you don't like tarragon
1 tbsp basalmic vinegar
½ tsp fresh lemon juice
Freshly ground pepper
Generous pinch of sea salt.

Beat all the ingredients together in a ramekin or other small dish. Toss into your salad or serve with fresh Tuscan bread.

Frog-a-ding-a-ling

Funny...
http://www.brandrepublic.com/mediabulletin/news_story.cfm?articleID=234073&Origin=MB02022005

http://weblog.herald.com/column/davebarry/archives/014904.html

I guess we're not the only country concerned with decency laws, but a nude cartoon frog? By the way I don't think frogs have a ding-ding :) This froggie is probably far more well-endowed then his real-life counterparts. I believe there's really no penetration involved when it comes to frog mating. The male jumps on the female's back as she's laying eggs and fertilizes them as they come out. Sorry, if that was a little too graphic for you all.

http://www.ehow.com/how_12700_breed-frogs.html