Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Review: 30 Days of Vegetables

October 9, 2015 1 comment

30 days of vegetables

I lasted 26 days.

And it you know, it wasn’t even an agonized “I can’t DO THIS ANYMORE!” kind of failure that dragged me down at the end. Honestly, I forgot. On the 27th day, Monday, August 24, I just plain forgot to eat a vegetable. This was the first day of the last week at Chatham before classes began. There were a million things going on at work. I spent the weekend prior at my boyfriend’s apartment and I usually don’t have much in the way of groceries for the following Monday. I have no idea what I had for lunch that day, nor what I thought about when I had whatever I had for dinner that night. My credit card statement shows that I did not get takeout. Whatever I ate came out of my fridge or cupboards. And the vegetable, which for the previous 3 and a half weeks had every day hung over my head in reminder, until I took my pic and cleaned my bowl, just did not call to me that day. I JUST STRAIGHT UP FORGOT.

And then I looked at my pics for that week and saw I had also managed not to take a pic on Monday, August 17, despite eating some form of vegetable that day, like the grown-up gourmand I was trying to be, and knowing that the set would never be complete anyway, I shrugged, and then I gave up. Because I never really wanted to eat a vegetable.

My experiment had some good results for me: one thing I found was that Birdseye Steamfresh mixes actually made nice office lunches. There’s a small fridge with just enough freezer space to fit one of them, and a microwave to cook it in. I eat a fourth to a third, and save the rest for another day or two in the future. Despite the many nutrients that are no doubt lost in the freezing and microwaving stages, it’s still a richer lunch experience than I usually have (see: cheese sandwiches). A couple days a week I go walk the track at the athletic center on campus and I can tell on which of those days I have had a satisfying lunch and on which of them I haven’t. I also found that having a vegetable on the side of things filled me up much more quickly, which is good, usable knowledge if I am trying to eat less of some of the more delicious and terrible things I regularly eat: red meat, pizza, pasta.

I got used to some of the foods that I ate; those I had never eaten before, and those which I had eaten, but never in a full portion. I’d say I turned a corner on broccoli; I can eat it now, with some hesitation, but I can finish it. Its best presentation is cold and dipped in ranch. Kale and spinach I find I also prefer cold. Salads I can eat quickly, and I needed less from the cheese and crouton families as I went along, though I found that ordering them in restaurants is pointless, because they almost all use iceberg lettuce, which is an abomination.

Not long after my experiment, this article and its rebuttal made the rounds on the web, with their relative interesting points:

Why Salad is So Overrated (The Washington Post, by Tamar Haspel)

A head of iceberg lettuce has the same water content as a bottle of Evian (1-liter size: 96 percent water, 4 percent bottle) and is only marginally more nutritious.

Salad Isn’t the Problem (Food 52, by Ali Slagle)

I’d define a salad as any combination of raw and/or cooked ingredients—at least one of which is typically a vegetable—that’s been doused with some sort of dressing. The salad that seems to be standing in for all salads in this article—a lettuce salad with some anemic vegetables—is just one type, and I think we’ve moved beyond this definition.

I get what Haspel is saying and it’s a good reminder for all of us that so many “salad vegetables” like the dreaded iceberg are basically nutritionally empty. They may have no calories, which to our fat-fearing culture screams, “Good for you!” but really it’s doing nothing eating paper wouldn’t also do for you. But then the Slagle article opened my eyes a bit to the idea of just mixing random vegetables together—lettuce not required—and going ahead and calling it a salad. I want to try a lot more of this. Mixes turned out to be the most successful meals I had during my experiment. Even my favorite Birdseye Steamfresh pack was a mix: Asparagus, Gold and White Corn, and Baby Carrots.

Still, ultimately, I never ate anything—and this is largely because of my severe limitations as a cook—that made me say, “This is delicious, and I would eat it even if I didn’t have to.” I will continue to try to crowbar nutritious things into my standard fare, and I will try to be more adventurous with my preparations, and someday I hope to meet that possibly mythical vegetable dish, the As Good As Pizza vegetable dish, or even the As Good As a Kinda Stale Store-Bought Cookie vegetable dish. I’ll keep trying.

Here is a link to pictures of 26 25 days of vegetables.


A New Challenge

July 29, 2015 3 comments

I’m working full time but not overtime, making a livable wage and taking on new tasks, the type that fall by the wayside when one’s life is in a constant state of stress and upheaval. I.e. my last two years.

Anyway, I’m trying to start exercising regularly and in earnest. My new office is located next door to our university fitness center, which is a major motivator. I’ve been walking the track (about 5000 steps or a full-length podcast) twice a week and I’m getting into swimming. (That’s right—last fall I learned to swim! Finally!) I’d like to do an activity like that 2-3 times a week, just to improve my cardiovascular health, strength, and stamina.

I also need to eat better. Please understand, this is not a promise to “eat healthy.” Such a sweeping reform is surely beyond my emotional or culinary capabilities at this time. I just need to concentrate on balancing my meals a bit better, as recommended by Michelle Obama. The government has abandoned the food pyramid of my youth and now ask us to arrange our meals according to the proportions shown on this plate graphic.


That quarter-to-third which constitutes the vegetable portion of the meal is routinely ignored in my meal-taking. So, in the interest of taking a significant but achievable step, I am attempting to put something (even if not always in that proportion) in that vegetable spot every day, for the next 30 days. Making this my…

30 days of vegetables

I hasten to add that I will be eating many things in addition to the vegetables: carbs, red meat, candy, processed garbage. And I will be taking baby steps by having a serving of vegetables once every day, not every meal. (Does anyone eat a vegetable at breakfast? I seriously doubt it.)

For accountability, here is photo documentation.

Day 1: Wed. July 29: Sad Desk Salad

sad desk salad2

Comprised of: kale, carrots, bacon bits, croutons, ranch dressing

I finished it, not including a couple of the more mangled-looking carrots. And this was my whole lunch, everybody. Then a meeting next door broke up, and a department director came in and said, “There’s cookies over there, you guys,” and I ran to get one and they were all oatmeal raisin!

The only thing keeping me going is the knowledge that the Mac and Gold truck hits my neighborhood tonight! I will deserve it.

Let’s see how the next 30 days go.

Re-Post: Black Friday and Liberal Judgment

November 24, 2013 Leave a comment

Note: This post originally appeared on Cultural Civilian last November. I’m posting it again because the topic is bothering me again. One of my favorite liberal blogs, Think Progress, is one of the worst offenders. “The War on Thanksgiving,” guys, really? How hypocritical is it for them to continually blast conservatives for their ridiculous “War on Christmas,” and then do this? I can’t even deal with it.

I’m off from work today, the day after Thanksgiving, and I have decided to do mostly nothing. The machine is washing my laundry, I’m eating leftovers, I’m watching DVDs. And I’m playing around on the internet, reading my usual round of blogs and Twitter links and nobody will stop telling me about Black Friday. Not just news of the GREAT! DEALS! I could get if I wanted to stir my still-pajamaed self out into the cold and crowds. But also about what an outrage it all is that Americans like to buy things, and to buy them cheaply.

Here’s the deal: I’m poor. A lot of Middle America is poor. (And that’s where most of this Black Friday madness happens, and don’t think THAT isn’t why a lot of the media attention is negative, because anything Middle America does is quite backward and embarrassing; that’s the one thing that coastal conservatives and liberals easily agree on.) We’re in a recession, remember? Did the election not stamp this adequately into your psyches?

Two years ago, I gave up my cable TV because it was too expensive. I make do pretty well with Netflix and Hulu and DVDs. But someday, I am going to have more money, and then I will have cable and DVR again. And I will do nothing but watch TCM for a week. And I will think to myself, “I worked hard, and I deserve this.” Maybe I’ll buy a Roku, too. [Note: I have since bought a Roku, with a gift card and a 60% off Amazon Gold Box deal. It rocks.]

None of this will be the end of life’s problems. But that doesn’t mean the pleasure of it isn’t legitimate. There’s this segment of the liberal population that wants you to believe that the only real pleasures in life come from walking through the woods, or talking about organic tomatoes at a farmer’s market. (A lot of these people are on Twitter, of course, because smartphones are somehow exempt from being considered consumerist rubbish.) But all day I’m reading stuff like this, from the liberal Eclectablog, these smug manifestoes about not being part of the consumerist machine.

Here’s what I think: if I need a new microwave, and Sears has them, and they are marked down 70% on this one day, isn’t it in my best interest to go buy it on that day? Otherwise I don’t get the new microwave, which I may need. To not have a working microwave is not suffering on par with starvation, no. But it’s a serious inconvenience for someone who works a nine-hour day and dines regularly on leftovers and is simply used to having that machine in the house. I’m going to go ahead and call that need, because I’m not a person who takes pride in depriving myself of modern conveniences.

We are not all Wal-Mart marauders. A lot of people use this day to stock up on stuff they want or need for the year. To buy Christmas gifts for their families. And to maybe buy themselves a little gift as well, something that they ould not be able to budget for any other time of the year. Consuming goods, to a reasonable degree, is natural. We crawled out of caves and into houses, and began filling the houses with things. This is how we live. It does not need to be a tragedy.

I just read Babbitt, a classic novel of American behavior, about a middle-aged man who has achieved modest financial success and goes out of his way to make a show of it. He’s not a happy or fulfilled man. And in our modern, developed world, we need to be conscious of our wants and desires so that we don’t fall into this trap—this bottomless pit of wanting, craving, needing things, of believing that this next great thing is going to be the thing that is going to change my life! And then buying more, because guess what, it didn’t. And maybe it’s a slippery slope to get there, but it’s also a lengthy slope. We don’t become Babbitts overnight. I know people who have money, who still go out to the stores on Black Friday because they have made a sport out of finding the deals. And they are generous with the stuff that they find and buy. There are also people who have made it a family tradition. Most of these people do not need to be preached at about what is really important in their lives. This is just a day for them; it’s not a life philosophy.

I didn’t go out to the stores today because I’m a hermit and I dislike the crowds. But if I had gone out and bought some $25 sweaters (because I’m a professional woman who sometimes needs new clothes) or some $4.99 DVDs (because I love movies: they give me pleasure, they satisfy my constant need for narrative, and they are fun) I surely don’t believe I would deserve criticism for that.

Brief digression: it is necessary for me to acknowledge that we do sometimes have to apply social or moral considerations to consumer choices. I don’t shop at Wal-Mart, ever. I think they’re a blemish on American society. I do fine without them (although they do fine without me too, don’t they?).

I also buy local, and American-made, whenever and wherever I can, but if the thing I want or need is not produced at all in America, I guess I’m still going to buy the version that got made in China. I promise that my next car will be American.  I mostly buy my nephews books because toys are so frequently foreign-produced. I will even buy American goods and services for more than I would pay for foreign goods and services—right up to a markup of about 20%, and then I’m out. At that point, I will have to say, “I’m sorry, I cannot afford this fine American craftsmanship.” And that is not my fault. Talk to the Mitt Romneys of the world about that one.

One last word, on the ever-increasing open hours at retail stores. People are protesting and petitioning that Target, for example, opened at 9pm last night, because of those poor Target workers who had to leave their Thanksgiving celebrations to go to work.

But did anybody care about those workers in previous years, when they were getting up at 3am to open the store at 4? Is that any more humane? How about when they work until 11pm on Christmas Eve? How about the Memorial Days and 4th of Julys and Mother’s Days and New Year’s Days they work every year? Nobody complains about that—largely because of a thing called time-and-a-half pay, but also because that’s kind of the way retail works. I worked in a department store for three years during college and I worked all those days. I worked weeknights after school. I worked Saturdays. I worked Friday nights for an entire year because they really wanted me on the truck shift. I worked many Sunday mornings at 7am for the ad set shift. Once I worked an overnight shift for inventory. The point is this: when you work retail you get used to this. Same with people who work in restaurants and movie theaters and parks and anything else that people patronize when they’re not at work. (Let’s not even talk about the sacrifices made by doctors, police officers, firefighters, and other emergency response workers.) You get used to not being able to celebrate this or that on its designated day, or doing it earlier or later in the day. Dropping people’s presents off at their house the day after. Calling Mom on Mother’s Day instead of visiting and taking her out to lunch. People in your life will accommodate you on these things. If they don’t, you get new people to be around you, or you get a new job. Every single job in the world has its disadvantages. I just don’t find this to be an outrage worth protesting.

I’m Going Places

April 10, 2013 3 comments


Among other reasons that I have not been prioritizing posting to my blog as I so earnestly declared that I would, is this: after a fall and winter of applications and recommendations and campus visits, I have officially accepted an offer to join an MLIS program this fall.

Within six months, here is where you will find me: iSchool at the University of Pittsburgh

Yes, it’s back to school for me for a librarian’s degree. And before you tell me that print is dead (–Egon), let me assure you that I have studied this subject a great deal and that all information schools are heavily digital these days, and as far as concerns the ability of libraries to sustain themselves, we know more than you.

Now I just have to finish up my job here, move to Pittsburgh and uproot my entire life! (…Yikes.)

Freedom of Speech: So Necessary, So Complicated

February 13, 2013 2 comments



So today I’m reading all over the web about this Cincinnati teacher, Mike Moroski, who was recently dismissed from his job at a Catholic high school for writing—on his personal blog—that he didn’t think there was any reason gay people shouldn’t marry each other.

Here is the relevant passage from that blog entry, which he titled “Choose Your Battles”:

Furthermore – I unabashedly believe that gay people SHOULD be allowed to marry. Ethically, morally and legally I believe this. I spend a lot of my life trying to live as a Christian example of love for others, and my formation at Catholic grade school, high school, 3 Catholic Universities and employment at 2 Catholic high schools has informed my conscience to believe that gay marriage is NOT something of which to be afraid.

To me, it seems our time would be much better spent worrying about the economy, our city’s failing pensions, retaining our big business neighbors and finding creative, efficient, effective ways to fund our excellent Cincinnati Public Schools.

Not much time left over to worry about gay people marrying one another.

See his statement about the firing here at said blog.

For my part, I agree with Moroski. I fully support gay rights. Let ‘em marry, let ‘em adopt children, let ‘em inherit each other’s property and share health insurance and visit each other in hospitals.

If certain churches don’t want to marry them within their walls, I’m OK with that, too. I mean, churches will actually refuse to perform ceremonies for a lot of people, for a lot of reasons. Because one of the couple has been divorced previously, or because they live together, or have children together, or just because they refuse to sit in a Marriage Skills class taught by a priest in which they learn how to practice natural family planning by evaluating the state of the woman’s vaginal discharge. (Yes, that happened, to a friend of mine.)

But let’s not confuse the legal status of being married with the joining together of two souls before God, or whatever a church wedding means. There are plenty of beaches, botanical gardens, and historical mansions to get married in, by a justice of the peace, or some weirdo friend of yours who got ordained on the internet. (If Joey Tribbiani can do it, why not anybody?) And legal marriage brings with it all those rights and privileges I described above.

Or, just find a gay-friendly church, of which there are many.

So I support all that, and I support Mr. Moroski, who I think was unfairly dismissed, the school having no other concerns with his behavior or performance of his duties.

But the situation has got me asking myself, do I really support freedom of speech? Or just freedom of speech that I agree with?

I read a story like that of Mr. Moroski’s and I get all indignant. “He’s expressing a perfectly legal opinion on his own blog yada yada yada rant rant rant.” It’s easy to do because I agree with his stance.

But what if his blog was expressing hate speech instead of preaching tolerance?

Remember that gross lady who made those racist comments about Obama and got fired? Remember Andrew Shirvell, that Michigan lawyer who was dismissed from his job for blogging about a University of Michigan student who he believed was using his position in the school government to forward a “homosexual agenda”?

I was against Shirvell keeping his job because, as a lawyer for the Attorney General’s office, he had (as far as I know) influence over decisions that were going to affect the lives of people who could easily fall into the categories he found so personally disgusting. (It’s worth noting that the ACLU fought for Shirvell’s right to express his bigotry, and to appear on the University of Michigan’s campus whenever he wished, assuming he followed the regulations of the restraining order placed upon him by his target.)

Similarly, if Moroski’s comments had been racist or blindingly intolerant, I would have supported him being ousted based on the fact that he is a teacher, and in a position to “mold young minds.” That is a privileged position. The students are there to learn from him; there is an implicit trust there that he’s not going to throw bullshit at them and tell them it’s the way of the world.

Conversely, the woman who made the Obama comments worked at a Cold Stone Creamery. She wasn’t in a position to influence anybody. However, the supervisor who fired her defended the action by saying that the store was being bombarded with messages from people who were outraged by her. It could have led to boycotts, which could have easily led to significant financial losses for the store. The company should certainly not be compelled to keep someone on who is going to represent a public relations nightmare for them.

But I’ll tell you this: I liked that she was fired anyway. I took smug pleasure in it.

I am just so tired of seeing that racist shit on Twitter and Facebook—not from my friends, mind you—but whenever there is a compendium of that stuff on the web. “Racist reactions to Obama’s election.” “Racist reactions to The Hunger Games casting a black girl to play a character who was written as a black girl.” OSU Haters, a tumblr blog created to publicly shame OSU students who post unabashedly racist thoughts on their Twitter pages.

I like the idea that if someone makes statement—a statement which, while not necessarily for public consumption, is distributed far and wide amongst one’s friends and is easily shareable beyond that private circle—which is what Facebook and Twitter do, make no mistake—if someone makes that statement and it is full of hate and violence and uses a word that hasn’t been used by right-thinking people for generations, I think that statement should have some negative consequences.

But when we all have such different conceptions of what equals right and wrong, it gets terribly complicated. Moroski’s statement also had unfortunately negative consequences, because his admission runs counter to the teachings of the church that employed him. And even though I think it is unconstitutional to do so, most parochial schools have policies for employment that include “living by the teachings of the church.” Moroski doesn’t see a contradiction in religious devotion and being tolerant of alternative lifestyles, and props to him for that. The Archidocese of Cincinnati disagreed with him; they find homosexuality to be antithetical to religious devotion. They believe they are right and righteous in that belief. And a church, as a private institution, has that basic right to belief.

(…Which is why I believe in the separation of church and state, and the unconstitutionality of employers legislating their employee’s personal beliefs.)

(Unless those beliefs are so hateful they can’t be ignored, or they are diminishing the person’s ability to do their job properly, or the ability of the company or institution to accomplish its purpose.)

You see why this issue is so complicated? There are so many factors here.

Anyway, I hope some secular institution snaps up Mr. Moroski, who, by all accounts, has an excellent record as a teacher and administrator. I hope he continues to write and fight for his beliefs. I hope anti-hate groups keep doing their thing, and the ACLU keeps doing theirs, because they are all on the “right” side. And I hope intolerance continues to be called out in every constitutionally-appropriate way that it can be.


Some Winter Positivity

January 26, 2013 3 comments

cleveland winter

My intense dislike of winter has been well-documented on my blog(s). But I had a good day today, and I thought I would shine a light on some of the unsung benefits of the cold and the snow.

  • Skylar loves it. She launches herself into snowbanks, up to her neck, and barrels through the snow like she’s swimming. She loves this in a way that makes me think her ancestors were pulling sleds across the tundra. She also loves when we come into the house and she gets to get rubbed down with a big fluffy towel. And I love Skylar, so I am happy she is happy about this. (Also she gets way less dirty during snow season than she does during say, rain-and-mud season, or summer dust season.)
  • The world becomes your refrigerator. During other times of year, you have to schedule your multiple errands so that groceries comes last, despite that it may not make sense geographically or work with grocery store closing times. Not so in a Midwest winter, when your car will keep even a gallon of milk fresh a daisy while you wait in line at Chipotle.
  • It never gets really dark. Of course in the winter it starts getting “dark” practically before I’ve left work. But winter dark is not like summer dark. In the summer, once the sun sets, my neighborhood is basically a huge dark closet, whereas in the winter, the tons and tons of white reflective snow means that I can see just fine while I walk Sky around the block or wander home from a late movie.
  • Good things happen in the winter. Christmas. MLK Day (either because you have great respect for a civil rights activist and icon, or because you like a 3-day weekend, or both, I think we can all agree this is a great holiday). The Golden Globes, the SAGs, the Indie Spirits, the Oscars! (i.e. awards season in general.) The Super Bowl, for people for whom that is a thing they enjoy.
  • The city of Cleveland Heights has been really good about keeping our sidewalks plowed this year. Two years ago, when we had that last devastatingly cold winter, they did not do such a good job, and people who, like me, were tired of having to cross-country ski to the bus stop, started protesting and petitioning and writing op-eds and things. Finally late in that season, they got in gear. Last year, they got the reprieve of a basically snowless winter. This year, they have proved that they took our complaints to heart. And it is appreciated!
  • When you wear winter coats you always have pockets. I don’t know, I just appreciate this. Sometimes in the summer when I walk Sky, I have to tuck my keys into the waistband of whatever pocketless pants I’m wearing. That’s stupid. In the winter it doesn’t happen, by default.
  • In my current residence, I have a covered parking space. Have you ever scraped a windshield? I haven’t for ages. That’s not really a winter benefit, it’s a being me benefit, but there you go. I’ve scraped enough windshields in the past to know what a pleasure it is to not have to.
  • Snow days! Do you remember how great this was as a kid? I used to beg the universe for snow days. When one seemed imminent, I would set my alarm clock ten minutes early, so I would have time to lay in bed and listen to the school closings on the radio. (“Please Grand Ledge! Please Grand Ledge! Get to Eaton County already, who CARES about Calhoun?”) In high school, I had a little TV in my bedroom, and I would wrap up in the blanket and watch the news for the school closings scroll across the bottom, the TV light flickering in the dark bedroom. Always craving that moment when I would find out school was not required that day, and I could crawl back into my warm bed until the sun came out. Weekends, somehow, never felt like such a gift.
  • The weather goes great with a mug of something warm. I am a hot tea fanatic, but I also will not turn down a cup of hot chocolate, if it’s offered. When it’s cold, it feels like a great excuse to just chug these beverages down with impunity.
  • OK, it’s kind of beautiful. Today as I walked Sky around dusk, I passed by Lee Road, where the speakers were blaring classical music, and I looked up and saw falling snow passing under the streetlights. It felt very lovely and peaceful. In most moods, I would not notice or acknowledge this. But in the spirit of “can’t beat it, join it,” thanks, winter, for giving me a little thrill today. Also, please disperse quickly.

The Only Libertarian Thing About Me

January 5, 2013 5 comments


I am a hardcore liberal Democrat. I am a capitalist, but I think there should be government regulation—a hell of a lot of it—on industry and technological development. I think there should be federally-funded programs for everything, including public art and psychologists for everybody and ways to make poor people not poor anymore.

However, I do have one belief that is Ron Swansonian in its isolationist fervor.

This is my house. If I didn’t invite you here, YOU DO NOT BELONG HERE.

It’s like this: on Saturdays, my neighborhood is positively crawling with Jehovah’s Witnesses. Get me straight here. I don’t hate religion, and I absolutely do not want to deny anybody the right to practice religion however they want to (so long as they are not hurting others or drafting legislation to which I will be subject, but that’s another issue). I don’t practice any particular religion myself, and I’m certainly not going to start based on somebody handing me a pamphlet while I’m in my pajamas.

Here’s what happens on Saturdays when these evangelists are walking around. Skylar sees them out the window. She barks like she’s being tortured by hot needles. This goes on for as long as she can see them. While they traipse up to the house next door, linger on their porch. While they traipse up to the house across the street. So on. So on. They move slowly, OK? A lot of them are old. And this means that I may be subjected to 20 straight minutes of insane barking which is not only disturbing my neighbors, I am sure, but which is jangling my nerves like corn kernels popping on a stovetop. This is a really upsetting state for me to be in, especially during a time when I should be free to relax. Thus, this feels like an aggressive violation of my right to privacy. Of my right to be unmolested in my own house!

This fall, I signed up to be a volunteer for the Obama campaign in Cleveland, but I signed up too late. All the public registration drives and things had happened already. They told me all that was left to do was call people (at home) and canvass neighborhoods spreading the word. I said thanks but no thanks. Even when I share the belief—when I have a personal stake in wanting other people to share the belief!—I still don’t think it’s OK to bother people at home.

I was exceptionally mean to the Witnesses this morning because I was so stressed. I literally said “Go away.” I’m sure they are good people by anybody’s estimation. I wish they would quit making me be mean to them.

If I want to learn about your savior, I will go to your church and learn about it. Set up at the library or in the grocery store or in a tent in front of City Hall and I will nod respectfully as I pass. But with all due respect, get off my porch.

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