Wednesday, April 27, 2005

On the Bright Side... At Least I Don't Work for Walmart

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/walmart/

I watched and recoiled in horror to see the absolutely brainwashed culture that thrives in the Walmart environment. Their stockholder/staff meetings resemble a cross between a Baptist Revival and a Political Rally. Their morning staff meetings in stores begin with the whole staff engaging in a snappy little clap as several staff members/clerks proudly describe the "rollback" prices of the day. It made me nauseated just to watch it.

Here's why. When you work in such an environment where the ultimate goal is the success of "your" company you cannot see the larger picture outside of the micro/macrocosm of the company that you work for. Everything is good as long as it is for the good of the company, because the company feeds you, rewards you. Makes things much better for you... that's great, but what about the world you live in? The towns who once depended on the manufacturing and production jobs from the companies that went out of business because they could not compete with the lower prices from foreign countries. You don't care because you still have a job, and besides those jobless folks can just get a job at Walmart. Doesn't matter that they have to take a cut in pay that may amount to half. If they work there long enough they can get a discount for the rest of their lives.

Are they really saving a lot of money for Americans in reducing the costs of their purchases or is the growth of their culture benefiting only the employees of Walmart (most especially it's corporate heads and leaders) rather than the rest of America. There is something wrong with a culture that does not make things... that's what my intuition tells me at least. I believe those communities including Medford, Oregon who had the courage and determination to stand up against this Giant are the ones who should be applauded.

Why do I keep on thinking of that horrible Star Trek episode (from the original series)... "You are not part of the BODY!" (Therefore you will become annihilated or rejected).

Addendum:

I've been thinking per recipher's comments: Maybe if we look at the whole idea of capitalism as the Mega-corporate proponents view it as analogous to species existing in an eco system. Maybe this form of capitalism is normal... one species becomes dominant... then wipes out other competing species and also the supporting species because growth in size/population cause them to over-consume... then there is obliteration/destruction/nothing because the mega-species can no longer sustain itself. My whole point is that competition is essential to insuring a healthy environment. Ever hear of the theories of what happened to Easter Island? I can probably come up with better examples if I had the time.

Then again, thinking of those workers who loose their jobs because of outsourcing and because their companies cannot compete with unfair pricing offered by foreign labor sources. We can always hope that they can find other jobs or that the workforce will 'evolve' yet again and these people will just evolve with it... but how? Will we become a nation of gypsy traders on eBay? What will we do? How can you have a healthy economy where businesses can remain competitive and thrive when the people don't have any money to spend because they either don't make as much or don't have a job period?

I know I'm a little off kilter, one need not point this out. I know I could probably use a basic lesson in economics (which do wish to research more about when I have the time). But I think all of these obsessions about the nature of our economy and the system as it exists are why I've developed a fear and revulsion of chains and megastores... this would explain the nightmares I had while I was down in Arizona for business. I dreamt that Daleks (shows what sort of a geek I am I'm afraid) were hunting me in a mall. While I do know we sometimes don't have much of a choice and we do frequent these stores at times, I still think that we can keep them at bay by buying wisely. Case in point. I have an aunt who buys for the sake of buying things...she continues to buy goods and appliances (from washrags to coffee-makers) at the local meglo mart at a discount, but as she buys the very cheaply made versions of things, they often break or degrade sooner than if she had bought a quality made items and paid a premium price. So she needs to buy these things more frequently.

Another example of sort of wasteful consumerism is the purchasing of brightly colored seasonal dinnerware and table accessories (usually made cheaply of plastic). Many major discount stores offer these items. I have bought them before, but I usually use the same set year after year or until they have become too discolored or scratched and even then I stll use them, but not for entertaining. I was initially charmed by a series I found that had a 60's tiki theme. One must admit, that while a dinner set fashioned to look like slices of watermelon might look cute and kind of smart, but is it really necessary to buy a plate set that looks like cantaloupe the next year to replace it?

By the way, I've opted for a nice set of sturdy ceramic ware. Mom's old standby of having a good set of china and a everyday set is always a good idea. If I want to add some decoration to my table... I'm considering some homemade options. Funny, I sound sort of sixties house-wifish... but oh well Brini Maxwell is my heroine :) I guess I sort of went on a stream of consciousness tangent here... talking about unrestricted capitalism and ending with sixties homemaking. But honestly, I believe that basic consumerism is how we live and breathe, and it's also how we exercise our power and choices.

Place settings and stuff:

I would not personally choose these colors, but the concept is nice:
http://www.craftster.org/forum/index.php?topic=4253.0

Table setting basics from DIY:
http://www.diynetwork.com/diy/lc_table_basics/article/0,2041,DIY_14018_2273511,00.html

Cute little picnic ideas:
http://www.readymademag.com/feature_17_picnic.php

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

A Hunger Artist and an Efficiency Expert

I'm working on an idea right now, about a supposedly talented and gifted efficiency consultant who works her magic for reasons similiar to why Kafka's "Hunger Artist" fasts. The Hunger Artist of Kafka's famous story fasts and is quite good at it simply because he does not like food. The Efficiency Artiste makes less work of things simply because she abhors the thought of work. She is, in reality, lazy in spirit and prefers to spend her time thinking of other things than the management of commodities, and optimization of reporting structures.

http://www.lundwood.u-net.com/ahunga.htm

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Tool Land

We were given another spreadsheet tool to track our progress here at work. More work to track work. Another metric, another tool. Let's see that's an extra hour a week I have to be filling out this spreadsheet. If there was something wrong with the old metric why don't you just get rid of it. Three weeks vacation including sickdays... I have to do 49 hours of crap work... and it doesn't stop even when management is on vacation.

The other week I was tasked with reviewing a number of trainings that were posted on of which was a series of seven or eight courses with no less than 150 pages of content for each course. Each page was a screenshot and some text- a screenshot, text, text, text. Screenshot. Some pages were all text. I believe in being thorough, but there's got to be a way to make things more presentable and at least digestable. When I was developing materials for an engineering team I protested when our main method was to provide bulleted powerpoint after powerpoint. Maybe a page or two graced with one of those stupid string beings. A friend of mine sent me a graphic of two of them doing it doggy style and I lost it. When I questioned my supervisor about it she just smiled and said: "They're engineers. They can take it."

People here at my work move with rhythmic determination. They're always on a track. Cheery, cheery never dreary. Some never pause to question what they're doing but just go with the motions.

While I'm on some catty and inappropriate subjects this month...

Perhaps this is the month where I'm having my period... that is I am rather irregular (in more ways than one), it would just be better perhaps if I was unburdened on all my 'feminine duties' for the bulk of the year and just had to deal with them in one month... I could spend this month sequestered away from the rest of society in the wild and rage with the wolves or whatever that new-age book from the 90's suggested I do. By the way I never read it. Wasn't it on Oprah's book club?

In anycase, I was thinking that as I grow older, like most, I have this tendency to look on generations who are younger than myself and say... that's far more messed up than we ever were. I can't help but remember the episode of South Park on the "Stupid Spoiled Whore" phenomenon brought about by young girls idolizing and emulating the girl named "B" and Paris Hilton. Such is the tendency of the older to comment upon the licentious nature of those who are younger than they. More, it seems that there is this unspoken barrier that divides what is appropriate for the younger generation and inappropriate for the older generation in terms of sexual behavior, attitudes, clothing styles and mannerism. The younger generation, of course recoils at the thought of the older generation, namely their parents having any sort of sexuality whatsoever. A friend of mine who is about my age works as a nurse and a few years ago she noted that she had a patient who was in her late seventies who was in the early stages of dementia who attacked her verbally one day. "I was a nurse once, and in my day we wore little white uniforms. We dressed the right way. We didn't dress like TRAMPS like all of you..." I had to laugh when she related this story back to me because apparently the woman didn't realize just how rampant the cliche fantasy of nurses in little white uniforms was with many men including some of the countless dorks who tried to date my friend.

This barrier to sympathy of the sexuality of generations set up by social norms probably due to some reason tied to the practicality of reproduction. Why would you want to think of people your parent's age or older having sex... until of course you get to that age. At dinner the other night we all had a laugh reminiscing about the whole subject of finding pornography in the home. "Here's my take on this," I said," If you don't want your kids to find it in your house then don't keep it there. Doesn't matter if you put it in boxes underneath scores of boxes or even set up a state of the art security system. Your children will find it now matter where it is, and then they will find a way to get to it. Enforcing some horrific guilt about sexuality might be one's only bet on getting them not to look at it (however this too can backfire as the most ardently sought out literature is that which has been forbidden), but then too you don't want to be responsible for them having to pay tens thousands of dollars for therapy later in their lives to sort out their sexual hang ups or perversions. Don't keep it in the home, but chances are they'll find it at someone elses home. That's what sleepovers are for."

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Vanity, my ass

vanity sizing (VAN.uh.tee SYE.zing) n. The practice of placing a smaller size label on a larger size garment.—vanity size v.
Definition from Word Spy

This all reminds me about a scene from a movie, a period piece set in the 18th century. I'm making up this dialogue right now, but I'm sure that this scene has played out somewhere either in reality or fiction and the time period or players are not fixed. A rather rotund but very rich countess or baroness or some other titled woman goes to see a snively little tailor who seems more lizard-like in his mannerisms and movements than human. Madame is viewing the selection of fashions which have just arrived and the lizard tailor fans the woman's vanity while encouraging her to favor his product.

"Oh I'd love to take this, but you can't possibly make this for someone like myself."
"Why madame, Of course not, your figure is so demurely porcine... I- I mean petite."
"Monsieur, you flatter me..."
"Why of course, Madame."


It's no secret that today many designers are dropping sizes despite the actual girth of one's figure. This really irks me because before I actually had a way of telling if I was getting fat or gaining weight. I suppose now I will just have to keep that old pair of Guess jeans from the late 80's and use it as a gauge. "Nope, can't get one leg into those pants, I guess you need to loose some weight."

Here's how I really feel about this:

IT'S A FUCKING LIE!

The nasty one in me talks to herself (in her head of course) as I try to put on a pair of pants in the Meier and Frank dressing room. "You can't fit into a size four anymore than I could fly a goddamn balloon around the planet." In all actuality, I am a nice round eight. On the other hand, I realize that I still need to work out in order to stay happy body-wise. I may not be rail thin, but at least I've got muscle tone and good bone density.

I read an article this morning that brought up the point that we are cheating ourselves and our own self images if we fall into the trap of this "Vanity" sizing. We are only reinforcing the idea that there's one way to look... extremely thin. On the otherhand, I think it's also propelling us into the notion that we don't have to do anything to stay healthy.

If they really wanted us to buy those damn clothes they'd put up funhouse mirrors (with skinny reflections) and softer lighting, maybe some plants and some wicker furntiure in their fitting rooms.

More:
http://www.fitme.com/Fitme/html/PublicRelations/coverage/Vanity_Sizing_AZ_Rep_0104.htm

http://www.wnwo.com/Global/story.asp?S=1771013&nav=1aI8M8qf%EF%BF%BDvanity

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Cursed by my earlier comments

Remember when I said that I wish I could mute the people I was in a teleconference with... well that comment came back to bite me. I will confess that I was in a meeting (while at home yesterday) and that I am if you haven't figured it out yet, a little scatter-brained. I made the mistake (which I will never ever ever do again) of starting something to cook on the stove while I'd called into a meeting. Someone drew me back to my desktop to answer a question which I thought would be brief... then suddenly I smelled a toasted grain and burning odor wafting from the kitchen. My rice was burning (don't ask why this Asian woman doesn't have a rice cooker, okay!)

I ran to the stove...
"Shit, shit... it's burning!" I grabbed the pan and noisily plunked it into the sink and then turned the cold water on it.

Then suddenly I realized that I hadn't switched my phone over to mute. Thought I heard someone sighing exasperatedly on the phone. Oooops.... .... so sorrry.

Okay, I promise, this was really really REALLY stupid, and I will never ever do it again. Cook rice in a pan while I'm in a teleconference, I mean. I will admit that I got some perverse pleasure from having a few people at work hear me swear.

I've started a separate blog for my knitting projects. Hopefully, I can get the photos of what I've finished posted soon. However, I think that the firewall is preventing me from posting them... probably something instituted by my work to prevent the many frustrated employees who are blogging.

http://lolocoknitter.blogspot.com/

Oatcakes with Cherry Preserves

This morning I found some leftover steelcut oatmeal in a pot in the fridge. Eyeballing it, I'd say.. it was about 1 1/2 cups of cooked oatmeal. I added some whole wheat flour (about 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons), 1 pinch of salt, 1 egg, 2/3 c. milk, 1 tsp butter & 2 tbsp shortening melted, 1/2 tsp baking powder, 2 tbsp of sugar, and a dash of cinnamon.

The result was a very tasty set of oatcakes to feed two that tasted quite good with sour cherry preserves and lowfat ricotta. So my dearest ate them up to his delight. He's so sweet, he'd eat even the botched up things I make and still kiss me on the top of my head for cooking for him. And he returns the favor by making some of the most wonderful things like the chicken breasts with spicy chutney or porkchops with a mango & cilantro curry sauce.

God Save the Queens

I mean it! Was looking up info on the Domestic Diva, Brini Maxwell when I found the New York City Girls on the Queen Mother site. And suddenly I became lost in the world of glamor and razor sharp cat-clawed wit. I can't stop... love the names.... Flotilla Debarge, Miss Ming Vauze, Miss Understood...Hedda Lettuce. I did appreciate Hedda's "Do's and Don't's at a Drag Show."

A sample:
2. Don't sing along with the drag queens song unless you want a 6-inch platform heel thrown between your bloodshot eyes. If you do continue to sing even though a Prada shoe is lodged in your cranium be warned you will be brought up on stage and forced to enter a big dick contest. Which you will loose. Pity does not work in a big dick contest and the blood coming from your forehead, though performance art like is a bit out of place. Snap!

I remember once in San Francisco this girl and I were smoking on the steps of her aparment building when a 6 foot 4 beauty made her way up the steep incline of the hill in four inch heels, and a smart denim miniskirt. "Goddamnit," she said as she took a long drag, "I hate it when they have better fucking legs than I do." Drag queens, the celebrated and best, possess a uppity grace that I can only aspire to mimick in it's weakest form.

I was listening to an Interview with Dolly Parton on NPR (I think) and I think she said, "I'm glad I was born a woman... if I wasn't, hell, I'd probably be a drag queen." Dolly said how when she was a little girl, she remembered seeing a woman who was 'all done up' with all the make up, red lipstick and the short skirt and remembering how much she admired her appearance, despite the fact that her horrified mother insisted that the woman was nothing but "trash." Dolly Parton, of course said one of my all-time favorite quotes: "It takes a lot of money to look cheap."

Friday, April 15, 2005

Tofu Universe

Here's something quick. Don't let the list of ingredients fool you. I'm no Martin Yan, but I've eaten enough Chinese food to know what passes for good. This isn't fancy, but it'll do and it's pretty healthy. In my kitchen at the end of the week when you just can't bring yourself to go to the store to get what you need, you just have to make do with what you've got. Like most Asians who've been schooled in how to eat right, I always keep oyster sauce, soy, hoisin, and fish sauce around just in case I need it. I made this in about 15 minutes - no joke. The best fermented black bean paste to get is the kind that comes in a jar and is mixed in some oil. Use it sparingly because it's fairly strong. Serve atop white or brown rice.


1 lb block of tofu cut into 1/2 inch strips
1 large clove of garlic minced
1 tbsp peanut oil
1 tsp hot blackbean (fermented) paste concentrated
2 tbsp oyster sauce (regular or vegetarian option)
1 tbsp hoisin sauce
1 tsp concentrated soy sauce
1 tsp brown sugar
1 tbsp Chinese cooking wine or reg. sherry (optional)
dash or two of white pepper
1 bag of stirfry veggies (already cut up)
1 tsp peanut oil
1 tbsp of chicken or vegetable broth
1 tablespoon of soy sauce + 1 tbsp of oyster sauce
Sesame seeds - black and white

Mix the soy, hoisin and oyster sauces and fermented black bean with the brown sugar and wine or sherry (set aside). In a wok or large pan. Heat the oil to high heat without smoking. Reduce to medium high and add the garlic and saute until translucent. Add the tofu and toss. While tossing add the mixed sauces to the tofu and toss until coated well. Cook for 1-2 minutes and place in a separate dish. Return the wok or pan to the stove without washing it. Turn the heat up to high and add the peanut oil. When oil is very hot add your vegetables and splash the broth and soy sauce/oyster sauce mixture. Cook on high for 2-3 minutes. Do not over cook. Remove from heat and arrange the vegetables on a dish and pour the tofu in the middle. Garnish with black and white sesame seeds. Done.

It's a Wholpin?

http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/ssistory.mpl/nation/3135982

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Love, War, Nihilism, Free Will, Vodka & Dumplings

Ironically, now that spring his here, I’ve been craving several things Russian: a story by Chekov, Cherry flavored Vodka (made by treating quality vodka with cherry pits), and of course dumplings both pelmeni and piroshki. Russian food is relatively simple when you consider the ingredients: flour, salt, pepper, onions, butter, meat. Even the cookie recipes don’t seem to have an ingredients list naming more than 6 items. I’ve always believed that there’s something comforting and reaffirming about this simplicity. Though it is true that the love and care needed to make dumplings and pastries by the dozen like Kolachi probably make up for lack of an extended list of ingredients in most Russian recipes. Russian dishes seem straight forward and to the point; however, their preparation can be quite involved and requiring labor.

During my first year of teaching, I was so worn-out and stressed out that I would get migraines on a regular basis. To this day I have not had a migraine since. We had a growing Ukrainian population in this neighborhood and during one of the celebrate our ethnicity days a parent had brought in an elaborately decorated karavai or bread. The bread was tiered like a wedding cake and had an intricate pattern of birds sitting upon leafy branches. Each of the ornamental pieces was cut individually and great care was taken to insure the details in the veins on the leaves or the wings and features of the little birds. I was so touched by the fact that someone had take the time and put all the love and care into fashioning this bread that my eyes started to tear up. My state of exhaustion only amplified the emotional upsurge... "Someone cared enough..."I nearly declared in an emotionally cracked tone," Someone cared enough to bake this bread." Of course this makes me laugh right now to think of my silliness, but on the other hand my belief was affirmed that people have the need to fashion objects and imbue them somehow with their care and maybe part of their spirit. The woman (or man) who had made and decorated this bread certainly put their heart into the endeavor. Russian authors, or at least the ones I’ve read, seem to apply a similarly dogged and methodical care when it comes to probing questions of character and morality.


I’ve always had a fondness for Russian literature, maybe because I could relate to their need for the portrayal of realism in their stories despite the sad and possibly pessimistic painting of reality they portay. A friend of mine once noted that I probably liked the Russian writers because many of them shared a rather brooding quality in their tone and their subjects were usually tortured in some way. “Brooding and tortured.. just like you perceive yourself, “he laughed.

Raskolnikov, Dmitry Karamazov, Uncle Vanya… especially Uncle Vanya all were and still are characters who are dear to me. Uncle Vanya, despite being a amiable drunk always struck me as someone who could love despite his drunken lolling in the futility of his life and appointment. Maybe there’s some Uncle Vanya in me somewhere. Perhaps what draws really me to Russian literature is that they are better equipped at asking questions about social responsibility or even moral responsibility. Sometimes to a simple American like myself, these questions push the envelope a little when it comes to the acceptance of free will. Maybe that’s why so many Russian writers drank (that and the cold monotonous winters) because now faced with the understanding that they had a responsibility to think and act on their own. Naturally, exercising this responsibility has some unpleasant consequences. So Inspired by my desire for realism and questioning, and inquiries on Free Will, I went to the Gutenberg Project and found a collection of Russian short stories for me to read one by one while I ride the bike a the gym. Though I’d rather sit at home with the classical station on and a bottle of vodka handy, but here’s to healthy living.

Is reality so bad? Do we really need to hide from it? I myself have been grappling with some issues about my life as it is?

Why would I rather knit a tank top than tackle the project management schedule I have lined up?
My body is aging, and changing because of that I need to accept that.

I don't fit in here at work and I never will.
My father has the maturity of a 13 year old with aspergers and I just have to deal with the fact that he’ll always bring up uncomfortable topics without tact.


There that wasn’t so bad. At least it’s a start.


Russian Recipes:


Kolachki (Nut dumplings/cookies)
Nut pastries with a rich cookie crust made with dairy cheese. I remember living in Chicago and having access to some wonderful Eastern European bakeries. These cookies were a favorite of mine. I’ve made them before, long ago, but I flavored the walnut filling with a bit of nutmeg and lemon zest.

http://pages.prodigy.net/dkomar/kolachki.htm

Siberian Pelmeni (Poached Pastries):
http://www.funet.fi/pub/culture/russian/food/food.html

Another Pelmeni recipe
http://www.russianfoods.com/recipes/item00074/default.asp
Apparently they’re good with a strong Russian mustard.
I believe that they would taste quite good with a horseradish/mayonaise sauce. This plum sauce sounds absolutely wonderful.

Apple Vareniki
More dumplings with an apple filling this time.
http://www.russianfoods.com/recipes/item00079/default.asp

Lamb Pilaf
http://www.russianfoods.com/recipes/item0014F/default.asp

More Articles on Russian Foods and Culture:
http://www.foodmuseum.com/springholidays.html
http://www.auroville.org/thecity/russian_pavilion/russian_pavilion_foundation.htm

Other rants...

It’s really been bothering me lately with this trend of conservatism running rampant in American culture that people will be more apt to live in denial of their problems and hope that something greater or better will come along and fix them up. American optimism has it’s place, especially when it’s necessary to counter the nihilistic tendencies of those who believe that it’s futile to struggle for change or improvement in life or any other endeavor. However, I see the conservatives of today touting a false sense of optimism and security. More their proclivity for deceit and cover up in addition to their attempts to change our government’s workings and constitution leave me without comfort. Under their power and ‘guidance’ they will bring us into an age where questioning or challenging those in power will be extremely frowned upon if not impossible.

My intuition tells me that their bumbling about by changing House Rules concerning ethics and attempts to take power from the “Activist Judges” (Maybe they should read the Judge Dredd comic books… or ooops, maybe they have) will all end poorly for both sides or all of us. Something smells of the German Weimar Republic early 1930’s.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weimar_Republic#The_collapse_of_the_Weimar_Republic_and_the_rise_of_Hitler

God will provide, so let’s get him (us) involved in our government. Government officials need not be accountable for their acceptance of gifts and favors from parties who require them to turn a blind eye to ethically questionable practices by corporations or groups represented by lobbyists. In fact, it is acceptable to deny that they have done anything wrong. Lie, lie just like Goebbels said, and the bigger the lie the better because if you repeat it over and over again, people will eventually come to believe it. (Sorry had to bring that up again).

Oh and by the way, if you don’t believe as we do, that’s too bad. You won’t be able to benefit from the services and funds that are being given to religious organizations (namely the ones that we feel are acceptible). We need to build a society where there's more of a smack in your face divide between the "haves" and the "have nots." Those people who have little or nothing don't matter anyway, because they have God. God will take care of all of them and judge them as well, but since He's really, really busy... let's assume that we know what He wants and judge these people for Him.


This is what frightens me about this government is that they are so willing to judge what is morally right and wrong and become involved in people's personal lives. They assume that folks do not have the ability or right to determine what is right for themselves. They feel that there is absolutely nothing wrong with church becoming a integrated into the government. Their efforts clearly support the rich though they mask their motives and maneuvers with their righteous moralistic crusades. They bully those politicians who may speak out against them by threatening them with the "righteous army" of constituents that they control.

And all the while I feel that we're supposed to do nothing, we're supposed to follow along and do our jobs, business as usual. Just as at my work, we're supposed to follow what upper management says even if their notions are cracked.

I read a stories the other day of a people who hid or aided Jews during the German Holocaust. And it seemed that most of these individuals had one thing in common: the believed in Free Will and the idea that they had to stand up for what they saw was wrong. As one of these individuals who was honored for his effforts said of his father, "he had taught me to fight for what I thought was right, and that those who follow like sheep are led to the slaughter. "

I'm sorry, these aren't happy thoughts and I should go back to just writing about my mental anguish at working in a cubicle environment or talk about food, wonderful food.

http://motlc.wiesenthal.com/pages/t077/t07748.html

***

Sometimes I wish you could mute the folks in the teleconference

No, I wasn't irritated by anyone or beleaguered by pestering questions... it just occurred to me that it would be nice if you could put the people on mute during periods of chit-chat.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

State of things

From reading the Google front page....


One thing I will not about the Pope in all honesty, is that he was by far one of the more tolerant Popes in history. I suppose growing up in a Jewish neighborhood in Poland had this affect on him and this was quite fortunate for the rest of us.

The Pope apparently institutionalized "mass production" of saints... it's quite a good PR move that follows the master strategies for public relations taken by the church milennia ago (i.e. holy relics, adoption of pagan celebration dates as Holy Days (holidays), you name it). Canonizing saints in Asian and other countries certainly does give a more diversified face to the Catholic church, but then the Yoruba descended slaves in the Portuguese colonies were doing this on their own and in secret hundreds of years ago. Instead of praying the the Holy Virgin they were actually praying to the godess of the sea Yemanja, and the pantheon of their gods was assigned to various Catholic saints. When I was 16 I had the good fortune to witness the festival of Yemanja on the beaches of Rio de Janeiro. Thousands and thousands of candles burned on the beach and in the hands of the devoted as they launched a flotilla with her effigy surrounded by flowers into the ocean. If only the services I had attended as a child held so much power and intrigue, but alas I was exposed only to the hippy-folk stylings of the church musician/minstrel who had an excessive fondness for the Prayer of Saint Francis. The song itself isn't bad. I just didn't enjoy experiencing a loop of it in mass after mass. We were lucky if we occassionally got to break into the "Great Amen," which was the closest we got to a gospel spiritual type song.

I joked with my mother once that if Vatican II hadn't rolled around the Mass would still be in Latin and I would still be Catholic, not because of the mystery and ceremony that remained in the body of the Mass, but because I would be able to understand what they priest was saying or have to listen to the musical selection. It was bad enough that I had the entire service memorized and once or twice when I was very weary, I actually started speaking with the priest on his cues. I don't even think we used incense at our church. It was all pretty new age and hippy-dippy, just not appeal to me even as a seven year old who had just started parochial school.

-------------

Now do we need yet another singing blonde bimbo with a reality show documenting her marriage? I've come to believe that there is something wrong, I mean clinically - DSM WRONG with people who want to share their intimate and private lives with people all over the country/planet (most people in other countries I'd hope have the good sense not to tune into this pile of steaming refuse called programming). If I was a newly wed I think that I'd have better. It's all just another example of individuals prostituting themselves for fame. I've said my piece on Brittany for the whole year now, I'll never mention her again (for in reality, she's not worth mentioning at all and if it wasn't for US and People, and all the other publications she so vehemently attacks, she wouldn't have a career). She's just pissed that Michael Jackson is getting all the attention as of late.

----------------

Ehhhh, Saul Bellow is dead. I walked past him once or twice on campus in Chicago. Actually, I didn't enjoy reading Seize the Day.

All this talk about Brazil has made me hungry for feijoada....

http://www.brazilbrazil.com/feijoada.html

For those of you who wish to find out who their patron saint or birthday saint is:
http://www.catholic-forum.com/saints/month00.htm

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Maybe it's just me...

but I would never again date anyone who said that therapy was a load of b.s., hogwash, nonsense. Honestly, you know that these are usually the first people who have issues that they're squirreling away somewhere in the attic recesses of their mind. Even if they don't believe in the value of therapy they should believe in dealing with their issues or problems in someway other than denial. When I was younger I couldn't recognize that this was a problem in some of the individuals whom I chose as friends or as significant others. I think that there was this tacit training I received from my low-context-we-discuss-nothing upbringing that said, "If you're going to pick a partner, make sure they don't have any visible mental problems." Unfortunately, what this training left out is to note that some people who suffer from mental instability are actually very good at hiding what's wrong with them.

A study apparently was conducted that discovered that cognitive (behavior) therapy was more effective in restricting the recurring effects of depression than anti-depressant drugs or a placebo (no treatment). I've never been a huge fan of pumping chemicals into one's body to alter one's mood even for recreation, but I'd always suspected that the chemicals were a mask or a quick fix and at times just fucked with your body's natural harmony (now, I'm sounding like a complete hippy). Once after graduating from college (and having absolutely nothing to do because I could not find a job or market my skills) I was put on prozac to treat my mild depression, and I absolutely hated myself on it. I became "Rabbit" from the 1000 Acre woods. It was impossible for me to stay still and even focus. I did loose some weight though, but overall dropping 5 pounds was not worth feeling like A.D.D. Robot-girl.


http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/medicalnews.php?newsid=22319

Lately, I've had this invented themesong running through my head. The lyrics tell about a protagonist who seems to be stuck in one stage of their life, namely their youth. It's like an old 70's ballad that talks about the football jock living in the fantasy of his glory days. On a more exaggerated level, it rings of tones from that movie with William Holden, Fedora, in which the leading lady has become so obsessed with maintaining a visible portrait of youth to her public, that she forces her daughter to take on her identity.

I've come to realize and finally admit that all this obsessing over frozen youth is most likely due to the perceived and real pressure I've been experiencing lately to "grow up," but I usually go through some sort of mild depression when tax-time rolls around. I think that the worries, the thoughts, are symptoms of of getting older. I know I shouldn't worry about these things too much, but I've always worried that I would, like Fedora or the aging football coach have difficulties accepting my passing into maturity, mainly because being a grown up the way it was portrayed by those who are extremely skilled at it... seemed like an honest to God bore of a chore. Is there something wrong with me? I still do what I'm expected, but I can't help but think that those people who really enjoy or get great pleasure from setting up GANTT charts and shuffling indicators in excel spreadsheets... are...uh, kinda boring... (shhhhhh... don't tell anyone I said this)... At least that's what it seems to me. But that's been my problem all along, I'm suffering from a sort of Peter-panism that prevents me from sinking into their world and becoming one with them. I suppose I should just accept who I am and who they are and live in two different worlds.

Still, each time I get flack at work for asking questions (like 'why are we doing this?' or 'what do we get in the long run?' ) which seem obvious and child-like in a way, I get some obscene pleasure out of all of it.

I know I'm a grown up... just not their kind of grown up.

Maybe the grammar NAZI will come back and correct my work :)

One more piece of advice from the not-so grown up office woman child. Read the wonderful post by the Breadchick, "He's the one." It's so, so true in a way I wish I had this sort of insight on picking a love when I was in my early twenties, but then again, I wouldn't have had all the adventures I had good and bad if I was so wise.

Navy Bone Soop for Four
1 large ham bone (and any left over ham fat)
2 1/2 c. navy beans soaked overnight
1 1/2 tsp white pepper ground
One large onion peeled and scored on one end
2 tsp sea salt
3 bay leaves
1 1/2 quarts water

Rinse the beans and place all the ingredients in a large, thick-bottomed pot. Stir. Bring to a boil. Reduce to low and cook for four hours. Discard the fat pieces. If you have a crockpot, leave it all in there in the morning and you'll have dinner when you return from work.