Wednesday, October 7, 2009

ahhh... fall....

it's not because my birthday is in october, it's not because the tourists (or, at least, most of them) *finally* go home, but fall is easily my favorite season for the following reasons: the clear, cool air, the smells of leaves and pine needles in the sun, the colors, and the chance to wear my favorite sweaters (i'm definitely a "fall dresser" - preferring jeans and sweaters to shorts and tank tops.)

even if i wasn't in a job whose busy season consisted of the summer months, there's a palpable 'sigh' heard through the air when fall officially arrives. i feel more relaxed, more likely to take advantage of my long-overdue 'mental health' days, and indulge in longer walks in the woods. hope may 'spring' eternal, but i feel more renewed than ever once october comes around.

with this new found energy, i feel moved to bake. a *lot*. sometimes my ambition overcomes reality (which wouldn't be a problem if there were 8 more hours in the day.) however, i discovered this recipe for baked apples while browsing online. it's relatively quick and easy, and definitely appropriate for cool (or even rainy) fall days:



it's an interesting twist on the traditional baked apple (i *love* the idea of roquefort cheese and cranberries!) i'm planning to make this for thanksgiving (with my own twist) and will post an update on my success (or failure...)

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

why i should never go on vacation...

everyone - from school teachers to dental hygienists to receptionists - knows what it’s like to plan a vacation, then prep for vacation (prep your workspace, office mates, boss…) then go on vacation, only to come back and find your desk piled high with files and sticky notes and pending items. you *knew* it was going to look like this when you got back. it makes you wonder why you even bothered to go on vacation in the first place. wouldn't it be better to just stay at work so that you can maintain the fragile balance of in and out box, emails, phone calls, and meetings?

i am now coming to the end of day two in the quest to find the surface of my desk (buried under sticky notes, emails, files that were taken out and not put back, requests, checks, misfiled deposit slips…) when i come into the office in the morning, it’s always with a mild feeling of dread as i anticipate the disaster that is my desk (no one will ever believe me that it once was spotless.) knowing that i have to slowly slosh my way through edits, requests, print jobs, bookkeeping, etc., makes me want to get back in my car and extend my vacation indefinitely (my bags remain unpacked, this wouldn’t be hard to do.) i know that there’s a theory about completing small tasks on the way towards achieving the larger goal, but just contemplating the small tasks makes me want to avoid them altogether.

someone once gave me some work-place advice which i've used as a mantra, no matter what i'm doing: make yourself invaluable. well, i guess if ever you want to know the level of your invaluableness, go away for a week and see how long it takes the office to descend into madness (when i returned to the office, not only was there no toner in the copier, there was no paper. c’mon kids….)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

my two-cents on economic apocalypse

first of all, let me remind the class that the word 'apocalypse' is from the greek word that translates to "lifting of the veil" or "revelation." as we've come to use the term today, it also means the mother of all conflicts, discord, the ultimate battle between good and evil, god and the devil, etc. etc. let me, therefore, try and marry the two, and say that we are indeed in a sort of econimic apocalypse; the tumultuous meltdown that is occuring, and the revelation which will occur when it is all over.

the cause of the current apocalyspe is three-fold:

1. this nation is hindered by its refusal to let go of the ‘fearless pioneer,’ ‘john wayne cowboy,’ ‘self-made-man’ image which began with the founding fathers and flourished under the government-sanctioned ‘manifest destiny’ movement: the idea that anyone can come from nothing and rise to greater-than-great success, and that it is our god-given right (nay, *duty*) to push farther and possess more (land, cattle, whatever.)

2. this nation was founded on, and continues to be driven by, commercialism. the founding fathers were *all* businessmen who, in the interest of profit, wanted to eliminate british restrictions. the boston tea party wasn’t about freedom, it was about taxes and the desire not to pay them (hence, retaining more money for oneself and/or one’s business.) i realize that’s a pretty cold way to look at history, but there you are.

3. this society rewards the sociopath (or psychopath, or the more politically-correct ‘antisocial personality disorder-affected individual’.) those people who can rise to ‘riches, fame and glory’ above and beyond the norm are given celebrity status, news media buzz, and almost god-like reverence. the problem is how these people get to their positions. for some pretty good details of a sociopath, check these sites: http://www.medterms.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=39219 - OR - http://www.mcafee.cc/Bin/sb.html.

once upon a time, in pre-wwII america, success meant having a home of one’s own, a good job with benefits, food on the table, and a car. that was ‘enough.’ but if people are satisfied with ‘enough,’ then companies who rely on a steady stream of production to make a profit will suffer (if people are satisfied with what they have, they will be less likely to consume more.) so the only way for corporations to insure they have a constant demand for their supply (and hence, constant income) is to convince the consumer that what he has isn’t enough or as good as what he *could* have (hence the infamous ‘ad-men’ of the 50’s.) additionally, not only is the consumer convinced that he should buy more, but that if he doesn’t have the money to buy it, he can buy it on credit (even if he can’t really afford to do so – hence the shady mortgage brokers and credit card companies of the 80’s and 90’s.) the only people who are going to make money this way are the cold-hearted, machiavellian individuals who will do whatever it takes to make the most.

i realize that i'm leaving out several factors, such as cheap goods flooding the import market, the unholy cost of healthcare (one cannot argue that if gm and chrysler didn't have to pay for their employees healthcare they'd save millions of dollars per year,) our 'disposable goods' mentality, etc. but i think this is what’s *really* at the foundation of the economy’s collapse: people convinced that they can have more, that they *should* have more, and corporations staffed by megalomaniacal sociopaths making it possible for those people to obtain more, even if they can’t sustain it.

the late freddie mac c.f.o. david kellerman may have been one of those sociopaths who suddenly found himself up an amazon-sized shit creek without a paddle, but i doubt it. i don’t know the guy from adam, and so i can only speculate on his motives (and that speculation is colored by my belief that all people are really decent at heart.) i think he was just a poor schmo that took over a money-grubbing corporation, guilty of the aforementioned crimes, that was bleeding profit like a gunshot victim, and who, himself, was living at the top of his means (check the house and the neighborhood he was living in…) he was susceptible to society’s insistence to consume more, just like the rest of us, and yet he saw firsthand the repercussions of this consumerism. he had to balance his company’s impending collapse and it’s pr with his family’s accustomed style of living. i cannot imagine the strain he was under. he undoubtedly felt that there was no way out, no light at the end of the tunnel.

so here's the moral of the story, kids: change sucks. facing reality, tightening the belt, shouldering responsibility, and paying the piper sucks. it's hard and it feels like the fires of hell. there will be casualties along the way, some regrettable and tragic, and some for the better. however, there is still hope. we are all learning (again) the lessons of gluttony and excess; we will, as a society, survive, and we may even be better humans for it.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

venture capitalism and you!

i may be a day late and a dollar short on this one, but i saved the following link in my gmail inbox for over two months because it bugged me.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/02/06/AR2006020601624.html?referrer=emailarticle

i'm finally getting around to venting my thoughts on it, and i'm sure they're not much different than any other web user's.

in case the article is gone or otherwise unreadable, let me break it down for you: Verizon Com. Inc. is accusing companies like Google and Yahoo of "freeloading" on networks they've spent billions of dollars creating. to quote John Thorne, a senior VP at Verizon: "(Google, Yahoo) is enjoying a free lunch that should, by any rational account, be the lunch of the facilities providers." essentially, Thorne wants Google and Yahoo to have to pay to provide Verizon (or AT&T) customers to access their sites.

(WARNING: TOTALLY BIASED ARGUMENT AHEAD)

Mr. Thorne, would you like some cheese to go with that whine? put on your big-girl panties and deal with it. the concept of the internet is not to provide you and companies like yours with a captive audience to whom you can market what you will. (incidentally, i've been to verizon.net. the login and search fields are all but obscured by ads and promotions. who are you to tell me 'what's hot'?)

i did, however, like your comparison of the so-called 'Google utopianism' with 'spiked kool aid'. i liken it more to the red pill and the blue pill (fyi, sir, that's a reference from 'the matrix.' if you haven't already, i suggest you watch it. guess which character i picture you as?) in this internet, you can choose to take the pill which will allow you to see the world as it truly is and decide the course of it for yourself, or you can choose to take the pill which will allow you to slip blissfully unaware into passive consumption, where you accept what the corporations sell you, consume what you're told you to, see and believe only what they show you.

Mr. Thorne, your company is not suffering. while you tout the 'poor me' argument in hopes of overturning so-called 'barriers' enforced by the government, you fail to realize that the true power lies with the consumer. even if, through some magic loophole, your company is able to restrict the content your customers can access through your service, your customers will soon find out that the grass is truly greener on the other side. they will leave you for the pastures of those companies that realize the only way to maintain a customer base is to offer the customer the freedom of true choice, and that includes opting to use the google homepage instead of the service provider's. it sucks for you, but it’s the only way. your customers have paid you to provide them internet service, and if you want to set up a toll booth in the middle of the information superhighway, you’re going to get a lot less traffic.


p.s for those of you who are concerned about maintaining a truly free internet, check out the recent posting by Sen John Kerry (D-MA) on savetheinternet.com by clicking here.

Monday, March 30, 2009

a day at the beach

ah march, a time of year where (in maine at least) you're thankful for every clear day - even if it's chilly. after a chiropractic appointment in kennebunk today, i decided to take jak to the beach. it's was such a nice day - a shame to waste it riding in the car...

we headed for gooch's beach (it's the largest of the 3 in kennebunk) and there we met lots of other playmates with their bundled-up humans. jak ran with his new friends, dug for clam shells, and scrambled on the rocks. a perfect, clear evening to end the day with.



on the way back to the car we found this guy:

video

he's strapped into what looks like a lawn chair with an industrial fan and a parachute. unfortunately, i couldn't get my camera phone to work properly so i missed the take off (very loud and impressive.) jak, on the other hand, was not impressed.

Monday, March 23, 2009

how i spent my sunday morning...

comforting my chocolate-stuffed baby! a caveat on the gluten-free chocolate cake: 100% cacao + coco powder = one *really* chocolatey and dense cake! try not to eat more than one helping, especially at bedtime...

Sunday, March 22, 2009

how i spent my saturday night

it started at six, after having successfully introduced jak (the dog) to running beside my bike while leashed to it. my first goal was to try an experimental recipe for chocolate cake, which comes courtesy of karina's kitchen (the gluten-free goddess of whom i am now a devoted follower!) and can be found here. i realized (too late) that i hadn't gotten the right amount of ingredients, but decided to wing it anyway (for instance: the recipe calls for 12 oz. chocolate - i had a 4 oz. bar of 100% cacao to which i added some sugar-free coco powder. also, i didn't have almond flour - that stuff’s, like, $12 a bag! i used 'bob's red mill gluten-free all-purpose baking flour,' which has garbanzo bean flour, potato starch, tapioca flour, white sorghum flour, and fava bean flour. also - i didn't use the sugar it called for, i used one cup of agave syrup.) john (the hubby-to-be) and i are wheat-, sugar-, and dairy-free, with a few indulgences once a month or so. this was an attempt to prove (to him, to myself) that i could make a yummy dessert that wouldn't undo everything we've been working for (dietarily-speaking.) also – i wanted to be able to serve it to mixed company. (btw - the recipe is not dairy-free. to wit: the stick and a half of butter i used...)

it took me a little longer than i anticipated to make this cake (chalk it up to timidity.) i finally got it into the oven at 7:30 and then proceeded to dinner: chicken thighs with indian-esque seasonings in lentil sauce (from a can) with rice. sounds more impressive than it really is. first, i put waaaaaaay too much cardamom in the rice (we were picking it out like bugs in the barley.) second, i ran out of tinfoil to cover the pan as it simmered, so i spent most of the cook time fretting that i was going to serve underdone chicken and thus wind up spending the night in the emergency room.

despite the mishaps, miscalculations, and complete guesswork, we managed to eat (at 8:30 pm) a pretty satisfying meal. john had three helpings of cake (which turned out dense, fudgy, not too sweet, and perfect with strawberries.) we sat down to watch a few episodes of ‘the duchess of duke street,’ during which john dozed off on the sofa.

at the end of the night, i shut the tv off, escorted my drowsy honey upstairs and into his pj’s, came back down to clean the kitchen, load the dishwasher (a blessing from heaven, you have no idea…) take the dog out one last time, turn down the heat, and turn off the lights. i finally slipped into bed at about 11:30. as i lay awake listening to john’s mini-snores, i had a sudden picture of doing this for the rest of my life. that may sound like drudgery, it may sound old-fashioned and prosaic, but i tell you it’s something i never pictured for myself at any time in my life: to have someone who ate what i cooked (and actually liked it!), to have a home to cook it in, and to have the security of knowing that, if i wanted to, i could get up the next morning and do it all again.

it was a damn good saturday night.

Monday, March 16, 2009

hope 'springs' eternal


you'd think that as a native mainer, i'd have learned my lesson about the following statement:

spring is here!

a few weeks ago we were slapped (pleasantly) with a 50+ degree weekend. then it snowed on monday enough to keep me home from work. after that nature, in a most sadistically gleeful fashion, punished us northerners for our unabashed joy with a slew of sub-freezing temperatures and more snow, sleet, and freezing rain.


but not today! saturday and sunday were beautiful: sunny, warm, and lovely. i spent most of my weekend in downtown portland and saw short sleeves and flip-flops abounding, worn by eager, desperate youth as if dressing for summer would somehow make it appear that much faster. you can’t criticize them, however, for their ardent and blatant impatience; i can certainly empathize. it seems like it’s been a longer, colder, snowier winter than any i can remember (or perhaps i’m just getting old and curmudgeonly…) i’m tired of having to make a 63-point turn to get out of my driveway because the snow banks have blocked 90 percent of it. i’m tired of looking at the plastic that is covering the otherwise uninsulated windows downstairs, and living in a cave-like bedroom whose windows are covered with blankets to trap what little warmth my space heater generates. i’m tired of the fear that one small misstep on the sidewalk can send me ass-over-tea kettle to bruise both my ego and my butt. i’m tired of not being able to wear cute shoes when i go out. i’m tired of shoveling.


but this weekend it seemed as if everyone was out and about, and just for the sake of finally being able to be out and about: parents pushing infants in strollers, or walking with toddlers (who, in turn, were entranced by new puddles,) flocks of teenagers finally glad for space to expand into their gregarious selves, and (to jak’s infinite delight) dog owners strutting their mutts down the cobblestones and meeting like-minded friends. the whole city seemed to be taking a deep and hopeful breath of spring. today, ‘though it dawned a little chilly, is sunny and bright and the snow is quickly disappearing. my car tires make satisfying little splashing noises when i drive down the street. the sun is strong enough to put everyone i meet in a good mood, even the guys with the dump truck and bucket loader, currently removing mountains of snow from the parking lot.


i don’t care what my better judgment tells me, i’m telling you: spring is here!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

sex

my significant other recently sent me two articles he found on the web regarding the above-referenced topic. they were interesting topics, but still, i feel i had to put my two cents worth out there. i've provided links to the articles, which should be read before my comments are:

http://www.sex-research.net/womans_history_of_Orgasms_and_walk.php :

"A new study found that trained sexologists could infer a woman's history of vaginal orgasm by observing the way she walks. The study is published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine."

a#1 - how does one become a "trained sexologist"? that term carries less clout than someone who claims to be a trained snake wrangler or a trained animal psychic.

b#2 - only 16 female university students from belgium were used in this study. i'd give more credence to its findings if it used 1600 (or even 160) females of varying ages from varying backgrounds.

c#3 - according to the article, "vaginally orgasmic women may feel more confident about their sexuality, which might be reflected in their gait." the study's authors (lead by stuart brody, university of the west of scotland) are quoted as saying: "'Such confidence might also be related to the relationship(s) that a woman has had, given the finding that specifically penile-vaginal orgasm is associated with indices of better relationship quality'." *MIGHT*? excuse me? undoubtedly, the quality of a woman's relationship with her partner plays a larger role in her confidence (and, hence, gait) than the fact that she can have a vaginal orgasm. could these authors determine a woman suffering from a sexual addiction from a woman who had many fulfilling sexual encounters? if we assume both are capable of vaginal orgasm, and the study's theory is correct, it's unlikely. i would beg to differ, and i would beg that the authors broaden their study in order to take such factors into account...

d#4 - 'the journal of sexual medicine' *looks* legit (ahem, it is *no* 'new england journal of medicine') - but still, one wonders why it would consent to publish such a half-baked study.

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

http://www.thedigitalbeat.com/2007/03/sex_6582.html

10 Things You Never Knew About...Sex

"3. While Viagra has made erectile dysfunction (affecting 10 to 12 percent of men) a household phrase, the opposite problem -- premature ejaculation -- is more common (affecting 24 to 27 percent of men). The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is currently reviewing a drug called dapoxetine as a cure for this problem."

what? seriously?!?!?!?!? like we need to be taking more pills in this nation? what happened to meditation and yoga and finding alternative methods and using meds as a last resort? incidentally, premature ejaculation is not a major health threat to this country. how about finding a cure for aids first?

"5. If a woman experiences orgasm during sex, she is more likely to become pregnant, since orgasmic spasms in pelvic muscles help move sperm up the vaginal canal to the uterus."

this theory was introduced in (believe it or not) the edwardian era. it was believed by doctors that in order to conceive, both partners had to have an orgasm. however, that theory has been debunked: a woman is just as likely to get pregnant regardless of orgasm (and i wish i could find the textbook i had for my women's health issues class so i could footnote that!!)

"10. 70% of women would rather eat choclate* than have sex."

i've never been happier to be in the minority!

*the article's spelling error - not mine

Friday, January 23, 2009

global family planning

this fairly-written, unbiased article came from fox.news (of all places!) and it makes me mightily proud!

" Obama to Lift Ban on Overseas Abortion Funding "

this is a glad day for women's health (and women's rights) everywhere!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

time for a fresh start...

i've tried it a couple of times (re-kick-starting this blog) - but this is the beginning of a new chapter in american history, so it's a good a time as any to start a new chapter on a blog...

my parent's generation will always have the answer to the questions: "where were you on the day JFK was shot?" (my mother was in high-school band practice.) my generation has the answer to: "where were you on the day the challenger blew up?" (3rd grade, mrs. sandborn's class, watching it all unfold on the t.v. screen. i remember mrs. sandborn put her hands to her mouth and quickly left the room.) this generation has: "where were you when the planes hit/towers fell." (driving between one job and the next, listening to a morning talk show - at first i thought it was some kind of sick joke. it was a bright, sunny day....) today, every generation has the answer to the question: "where were you when Barack Obama became the 44th president of the united states of america?"

it's incredible to think that, in the span of one adult lifetime (60 years,) our society - the entire human race - has gone from the Wright brothers flight to the apollo moon landing. our technological leaps and bounds have been astounding. and yet, it isn't until today, that our journey seems close to complete. my late grandfather, who died in early 2008 at the age of 98, couldn't have fathomed that he would live to see the new millenium. i wonder what he would say about today.

the significance of this day to our nation's history is irrefutable, and will be emphasized and analyzed and sermonized to death. for me, however, the impact of the day wasn't felt watching the processions or parades or (what passes for) the pomp and circumstance of the inauguration. there was no emotion that came from the recitation of the oath of office (rough as it was) or from Obama's speech. what hit me hardest was watching the faces of those in attendance, not the politicians and other privileged folks on the capitol steps, but the regular folks, who were standing in the crowd, who had waited since 5 am, who had travelled a long, long way. i choked up when i saw the faces of the Tuskegee Airmen, the father holding up his infant child to see, the soldiers standing amidst civilians, in solemn salute as others cheered, the young and the elderly side-by-side, the national mall a sea of colors and faces - all smiles - no protests, no anger, no violence on any face or in any eye. i can honestly say i never thought our country could be capable of achieving this much. i am so proud.

at the end of the day, although nothing has really changed (i still have reports to generate, calls to make, projects to complete and start anew,) there is a palpable difference in the air. part of me shudders to think of the endless gushing the media will do over this day, and part of me wonders how long this glowing good feeling will last. still, most of me can't help but look forward with an optimistic smile. those who know me know i am no optimist, but today i can't help it.

101 Cookbooks

You should check this out...

Annabella.net:
Annabella's "slice of cyberspace"

Her awesomely helpful html stuff notwithstanding, this is a really cool site about some really cool stuff. Makes me want to visit Austrailia!