Wednesday, December 23, 2009
It's the gaming application that I'm most excited about. Not that I really play video games ever (I actually love watching other people play them and following along with the story. Weird?), but if didn't have to remember what all the buttons or what combination of buttons I need to press to kill a dwarf or something, that might make it way more fun.
Am I that lazy that playing video games is too much work to learn how to do?
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Today, Rosetta Thurman wrote about the most young people today are Hispanic and that they will be the ones shaping this country in the future. She referenced new Pew Hispanic Center research from a national telephone survey.
The survey by itself is fascinating; I highly recommended you read at least the overview. I’ve always been interested in immigration, the immigrant experience, and cultural integration through the generations, so I was eating this stuff up this afternoon. Ever read White Teeth by Zadie Smith? I loved its treatment of the topic, and though it’s story takes place in the UK, the ideas are similar.
She also linked to an (excellent) post on her blog from February, which referenced a New York Times article reporting how updated Census Bureau projections indicate that “Americans who identify themselves as Hispanic, black, Asian, American Indian, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Island will together outnumber non-Hispanic whites” in 2042 instead of the earlier projection of 2050.
There is an interesting thread below the post about racial terminology. As I was writing the above paragraph, I wondered why all the categories are capitalized and refer to geographic origins expect black. Why not use African-American there instead? A big topic in the discussion on her blog was why, if minority isn’t the right descriptor and people of color is, why is white still the accepted way to refer to Anglo-Americans. I mean, white is also a color, right? And Asians are white, technically, but they are referred to geographically. At the same time, I don’t think it’s appropriate to call me Irish-American; my ancestors are from Ireland and I identify myself with that country, I suppose, but I’m much more American than Irish.
Although I absolutely agree with Thurman that minority has got to go, I think maybe, since everyone is an American, the solution lies in economic status. Poor, underserved, underprivileged, and at-risk are all pretty bad alternatives. I was reminded of my international studies courses as an undergrad when I learned third-world was archaic and developing was the appropriate, positive, term to use in its place. We need something like that for people.
The solution to racism is, of course, to make race irrelevant. I mean, white isn’t even my race. I’m Western European or Anglo-Saxon or something, right? As much pride I feel for my Irish ancestors, that distinction feels silly to me. Eventually, we ought to get to a place where everyone is proud of where they are from but have a much broader identify than just the region of the world where their ancestors were born. I know racism exists, but maybe to start bringing our society away from it, we could focus instead on helping everyone who’s hungry or homeless or stuck or uneducated.
What a feel good note to sign off for the holidays on!
Monday, December 21, 2009
I’m trying to convince myself that I just miss the days when my bloggers talked about failure; I’m reading their blog because they HAVE succeeded, and I just didn’t know about them back when they were failing and bitching and moaning about it.
But I’m not really all that convinced. For all the stuff people try every day there must be a lot of failure going unreported. An EPIDEMIC perhaps.
Maybe as long as you are learning from your experiences, you can never fail. That statement seems feel-good enough to fly with, but I honestly don’t think so. I fail every day at losing weight when I skip breakfast even though I know I shouldn’t, reheat two slices of pizza for lunch, have nachos for dinner, and don’t go to the gym. But then, it’s not like that’s IT FOREVER. There’s always tomorrow.
That’s it: optimism is reason failure is so underreported. People don’t ever say I failed, that’s it. You can always try again.
And the guy who’s training for a marathon but quits after two months learns something about his limitations, or his interests, and talks about that instead. And the guy who picks up and moves cross country in what turns out to be a mistake writes instead about weird funny things that happen to him on the train every morning and proves one can appreciate the fun in life when things, on the whole, suck.
And really, if someone is talking a lot about their failures without the optimistic try-again attitude or a positive lesson form the experience, then they are just whiners.
But this is one of the big reasons I like Penelope Trunk. She has a nice mix of helpful information, funny and exciting life stories, and traumatic, devastating, or just plain sucky things that happen to her. It makes me feel less weird for feeling like I’m stumbling around so often.
As long as you’re smiling, its ok to stumble.
Friday, December 18, 2009
I had such a moment this morning. In few other moments of my life have I been prouder. And I wanted to share it with you.
CW sent me this link to a news story on CNN about a pending Oklahoma law that would require doctors to complete a 10-page questionaire about every woman they preform an abortion for that includes information about her age, marital status, race, and years of education. The story said one question the woman are required to answer is why she is seeking an abortion. The question reads:
"Having a baby:
- Would dramatically change the life of the mother;
- Would interfere with the education of the mother;
- Would interfere with the job/employment/career of the mother."
Did I mention this data would be publicly available online? Yes, names and other identiyfing information will not be, but many are concerned about nosy neighbors in small towns figuring out who's who on their own.
State Sen. Todd Lam, who helped draft the legislation, is quoted explaining this is "a common-sense measure with bipartisan support" that is designed to collect data to be used in helping prevent future unwanted pregnancies.
"We're not trying to embarrass anybody, hurt anybody or make anybody's identities known. That's not the purpose of the legislation," he said.
In a way, I understand that. Maybe this information will show Oklahoma exactly how many unwanted pregnancies are the result of young women not having access to or knowledge about methods of contraception and inspire the legislation to appropriate money supporting sex education.
Or maybe that's too much to hope for in a "pro-life state" as Lamb continued: "Oklahoma is a conservative state. We are a pro-life state, and I believe it's important public policy to stand on the side of sanctity of life."But let me tell you what REALLY got me fired up. I mean, almost enough to make a new, very sarcastic Facebook status about this guy, Troy Newman, the head of the Kansas-based anti-abortion group Operation Rescue. Listen to this doozy:
"Naturally, the abortion industry wants to block this, because they know the more information the mom has, the less likely she is to abort her baby," Newman says.Right, because it's completely irrational for women to make the decision to abort their baby. Abortion is an unnatural and misguided reaction; there are much better alternatives.
WOW. And that isn't even all there is to be upset out. Seriously, go check this guy out.
When I was in high school, I was in Mr. Kevin O'Reilly's AP US History course (no, I wasn't a cool kid, how did you know?). That is one of the courses I learned the most in, not because I remember when the Salem Witch Trials were or the history of organized labor in the 19th century, but because he pushed us to always question our sources. Who is saying that? What is their motive? What is their track record? How does their informatin compare with other sources?
(I also have to give credit to Mr. Vincent Bucci, my freshmen-year World History teacher at good old HWRHS, who laid the foundation for this skill, known as critical thinking. Refreshing right? I wish there was more of it out there, but I digress.)
Or in this instance, these alternatives are better by who's standards and beliefs? What if I have different standards or beliefs? By "information" do you mean scare tactics, propoganda, and other sneaky strategies?
Side note: Feminism is NOT all about abortion. Because I've done a 180 flip on my stance on abortion in the last few years, it is an issue that particularly riles me up. Stand by for Raging Feminist commentary on other women's issues.
Thursday, December 17, 2009
First, I took out our Anyone Can Cook cookbook. It has a "something sweet" section - perfect! But wait: all of the recipes require ingredients that we don't have, stuff like vanilla extract. Damn.
(Surely you see where this is going. What kind of person doesn't have a bottle of vanilla extract? Domestic FAIL.)
Aha! Apparently, all it takes is flour, butter, and sugar to make shortbread cookies! Then, you can throw pretty much whatever you want! All I have for desert seasoning is cinnamon, nutmeg, and frozen blueberries. Luckily, one option the book listed is brown sugar, cinnamon and cloves; I'll just substitute the nutmeg and be all set!
This is where, I suspect, things started going down hill. For one, after I put in 1/3 of the sugar the recipe called for, I wasn't using brown sugar. In fact, I didn't even have it. With a careless shrug, I explained to Maddie that was fine, I'd just throw the spices in anyway and just have milder flavored cookies. Then, I couldn't figure out how to measure out 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon using the grinder we have. So I just cranked that thing until I thought I had the right amount. Next, I dropped about 50% more nutmeg into the mix than I was supposed to.
So when I put in the partially melted stick of butter, I shouldn't have been surprised that the dough wasn't really sticking. I had far too many dry ingredients, I realized. That's: just keep throwing more butter in there!
Almost a full stick later, I figured there was nothing me to be done: gotta get those babies in. So I start squishing the very crumbly dough together with the idea of rolling it out. Except I don't have a rolling pin. Apparently, there is no limit to my ability to improvise; I never knew I had it in me! So I use a juice glass. Still doesn't work, too crumbly.
"Well, I'll just mold it into little cookies with my hands!" I say to Maddie, who leaves the kitchen for her couch to wait for CW, and sanity, to return to the household.
I bang those cookies together and toss 'em in the oven for 20 minutes. Open the door: still pretty much raw dough. 10 more minutes later: no change.
This is where, if I had guests coming or something, I'd prolly just cry. Goddamnit, I just want to be a domestic goddess, is that too much to ask?? But in this situation, there is no pressure, and think CW will get a greater laugh out of it as it is.
So I make some hot cider instead while I wait for him to come home and shake his head at me. (I am capable of recipies with three steps or less: pour cider into pot, turn heat on low, and add cinnamon. Even that took a few tries; twice already, I've boiled over a pot of cider. Very sticky.)
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
First of all, CW and I had a discussion about someone getting fined for having sex in a war zone, specifically. He was thinking the fine was actually for her being pregnant while at war - that would be rendering herself unfit for duty; unable to complete her job. That would be like a man getting drunk and falling down some night and breaking his leg or something - unfit for duty. I'm not 100% on this, my understanding was that she was fined EXPLICITLY for having sex. Then I see that there is, or was, a ban on sex in Iraq.
Seriously? How stupid is that?
Secondly, and this is her main point, why can't federal employees have access to a a legal medical procedure through their health plan? Because some people don't think abortion is a medical procedure. I was one of them. I thought it was murder. But in the last year or so, I've absolutely changed my mind.
The reason is biology. Mammals abort their young when their isn't enough food or something (or for lots of other reasons).
More recently, scientists have accrued abundant evidence that "bad" mothering is common in nature and that it is often a centerpiece of the reproductive game plan.
You know what this is? Humans thinking they are different from animals. I mean, we are right, We've got cities and technology, duh. But all that has come up in just the last few hundred years. And underneath the cell phones and wireless Internet, we're animals.
Also, CW and I had a few pregnancy scares in college. And by scares I mean he was in one stall int he women's bathroom in my dorm and I was in the other peeing on a stick and the two of us had clenched jaws while we waited. We had no money, thousands of dollars of debt, and no college degrees to get a job with. I was leaving to spend four months in Ireland. When you find yourself in that position, all of sudden abortion as murder becomes much less black and white.
That's why it's not unfeasible for me to see that when a woman finds herself pregnant and, for some reason or another, cannot support a baby, aborting that offspring is a reasonable and appropriate response.
But no. Some people have decided it's not. So a significant population of women in this country don't have access to safe abortions (which, I remind you, were deemed legal by the Supreme Court). And if a restriction against federal tax dollars funding abortion passes in the health care reform bill, an even broader population of women, middle-class women who opt into the government option like the feds want them to, won't be able to get a legal medical procedure if they want it.
Saturday, December 12, 2009
The sun started coming up through the trees, orange and blazing even in the cold. I stretched out and got up to wash my face.
Lesson this week: simple acts like getting up from my desk and walking away or washing my face and looking in the mirror are actually very profound. That's why they are so dramatic in the movies. In real life, you can have an epiphany while you're face is dripping in the mirror.
Slowly, I began thinking I had also been a mess. I started a mental tally of the gin and whiskey and lost count.
Earlier this week, I covered the Hamilton Selectmen's meeting and the Hamilton-Wenham School Committee meeting for the Chronicle (check out my stuff sometime) It was pretty interesting: how to bring more commercial development to the town to diversify the towns tax revenue income and what was going on with the budget at the state level and how the high school was going to avoid probation from the New England Association of Schools and Colleges with so little money coming from the state. I was getting pretty fired up about taxation and the role of government. I shook hands with silver-haired men and saw women in expensive looking sweaters and wearing broaches and looking over files of documents. Very Serious Stuff.
I left the school committee meeting just before they officially ended it. I hurried to my car and jumped in, enjoy my spry, strong legs and young and healthy (if dry) hands. I turned up the music and backed out of my parking spot too quickly. I drove much too recklessly for 9pm in Wenham.
But it felt good.
I stopped feeling too bad about last night when I remembered I have my whole life to say no thank you to one more whiskey and coke (or glass of wine, if I ever get that classy) and be a Responsible Adult.
This week, I also spent a lot of time thinking about my job and My Career and what I need to be doing to move forward. More Very Serious Stuff. I even talked to a financial adviser about trading stock.
When I have kids, I'm going to tell them its very very hard to grow up. I don;t think enough people say that. It's very very hard to take responsibility for things and do the right thing and stuff. (Then again, I'm terrified of the process of creating another human inside me so that is still a LONG WAY OFF, if it ever happens. (It'll happen.))
I feel way too young to be serious. I want to be stupid and irresponsible some more. Just a few more years.
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
This is me at a house party holding Monty, the python from Maine. Our host took Monty home after her uncle couldn't care for her anymore, explaining that, of her family, herself and her 18 year old cousin were the only ones interested in taking care of a snake.
Make that me and CW. It wasn't long after this photo was taken I demand he buy a python, to which he replied abso-fucking-lutely.
The next day, I slightly regretted that decision since, if i need to choose between a cat and a python, I think I'd want a kitty.
(Our host also had an adorable black and white cat with medium length fur that I wanted to take home with me, but she was very shy and preferred her perch on the window seat. We left that party still madly in love with our darling Maddie, but crazy about getting some more animals.)
Here's CW holding Monty. After about half the party went to bed, he and I stayed up watching Mythbusters. He held her while our host cleaned up in the kitchen. Yeah, he's an expert snake-sitter.
Thanks to our buddy SW for the photos (via his Blackberry)!
- Not knowing that when making a plural word, like nurses, possessive, you add an apostrophe after the word and don't add another s. So it looks like nurses'.
I mean, I'm not a whiz at grammar by any means (without the spell check feature in Firefox this blog would be a mess), but SERIOUSLY. Or as my friend AG likes to say, for fucking real?
Did I mention that I work at a publishing company? As in, the person I'm describing is an EDITOR?
- Throwing a temper tantrum because you can't figure out how to turn off the comments in Word's Track Changes mode. Or figure out how to just get through making changes to a document using the comments because, you know, that probably will take you 20 more minutes than if the document didn't have comments. And by temper tantrum, I mean screaming, BANGING ON YOUR DESK, and more screaming. And then bitching out the client who sent the document on the phone. Excellent customer service. Defiantely worth $90k a year.
Did I mention $90k? As in THREE TIMES what I make?
Clearly I need to do more swearing, bang more stuff, and be more stupid.
Monday, December 7, 2009
I will get the photographic proof for you doubters forthwith.
Did I mention this is only thing pandas eat?
That's like all I ate were tomatos, but my body didn't get enough nutrients from them to have sex, so I had binge on tomatos for two days straight before trying to reproduce...and even then it might not even work.
Well, sort of like that. But you get my point: how did pandas survive this long?
I guess when humans can't get into your habitat, it isn't so hard to just eat all day every day. Rather than, you know, develop fighting or fleeing techniques, or something a little more useful.
Pandas are cute, but owls are way more badass.
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
She doesn't really nap of course, she just thinks its funny to talk about how much she wants to slack off.
What really pisses me off is when she comes back from somewhere and asks "Why isn't anyone else napping??"
Oh, I don't know, maybe because I have TOO MUCH FUCKING WORK.
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
What motivates you to go to the gym? For me, it's a simple thought: once you go, you'll be glad you're there.
Monday, November 30, 2009
Some will say anger is childish and immature. An adult will take a deep breath and move forward, letting go of the anger and move forward constructively.
Fuck that, I say. Anger is a healthy emotion that ought to be expressed. You can't move forward until you've allowed yourself to feel an emotion. For me, doing so frequently requires storming around my house slamming doors, punching stuff, and making a loud noise close to URRRARRRGH!
I also use strong, creative language like fucktard. That's one of my favorites.
But that's in private. With others, I tend to avoid confrontation and then justify doing so by saying I only like to politely address an issue with someone when it threatens to be a long term problem. In that situation, the key is avoiding The Snap. I don't want to retort to a completely oblivious comment with a nasty comment, since that smacks of passive aggressive, another Thing that Pisses Me Off. Luckily, I'm pretty good at doing so. Except, sometimes, when my mother is concerned. My trick is to speak slowly and focus on breathing.
On the other hand, who wants to smile and make nice when inside you're seething. That is being a Phony, another behavior that Pisses Me Off.
What's the balance? Usually I allow space between myself and who's every Pissed Me Off; I need some time to cool down and move forward; no more than a day or so usually. Then my first encounter is typically a little strained, but whatever I liked in the first place about the person who pissed me off generally comes to the surface quickly and the whole thing is water under the bridge.
Not that I forget. People only get so many freebies.
Saturday, November 28, 2009
Friday, November 27, 2009
Now I'm thinking as I write.
Do I too frequently make decisions based on how much an event will cost? I don't think so. I think I'm rational, logical, and analytical. It's a matter of pros and cons. How much is it worth it to me to be at this event? What are my responsibilities? What will I get out of this event? What else could I spend that $30 on and would that be more worthwhile? Probably especially so if I don't spend that $30 at all.
Thursday, November 26, 2009
Brilliant, I know!
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
2) That being said, I want to party harder. There are only so many years when it's acceptable to starting drinking at 12noon on a Saturday or take swigs from a flask of Jack Daniels.
3) Read more. See the post below. I love books. I don't know why I sit in front of the TV for four hours every day but can't be bothered to read more than a page at a time. Oh wait, the TV thinks for me. I remember.
4) Plant flowers and other plants. Everywhere I can.
5) Write to people more often.
There. Let's not get too ambitious here.
Most interesting: Richard Layard's Happiness
I learned the most from: Steven King's On Writing
Hardest: Stuart A. Kauffman's Reinventing the Sacred
Reading right now: Michael Dobbs' One Minute to Midnight
What Maddie thinks about. That's here, pondering the world, from the porch of CW's cabin in Maine. That was Labor Day, remember? Back when there was sun? And green living things? Shouldn't complain though: it's only just become chilly enough for scarves and hats and I'm excited: scarves are sexy.
Regardless of the season, I'm curious.
The way moths feel when they flutter against my skin or bump into my head and get stuck in my hair is TERRIFYING.