3.31.2011

Dogs are Worth More than a PC.

This is a really informative and disturbing piece by Christie Keith on the San Francisco Chronicle online (whole piece at link) from last month which outlines the brutal slaying of over 100 healthy sled dogs in Canada. 

Because of slow business, dog handler Robert Fawcett was instructed by his employer to get rid of excess dogs that they couldn't support. The company is Outdoor Adventures Whistler. After a vet refused to put the healthy dogs to sleep Robert decided to kill them using a gun and a knife. This is a man who claims:
He had named them. He'd raised them. He was responsible for feeding them, caring for them, and handling them. He lived with them, and was available to tend to them seven days a week. He had developed, he said, "a relationship of mutual love and trust" with them.
I am dedicated to my dog and have gone through all those same motions/emotions. I would certainly say I have a relationship of mutual love and trust with my dog. We share a really strong connection and I trust her completely and she knows I am here to protect her and that I provide for her. Since Ruby is my first dog I never knew how deep this kind of bond could be or that it could even exist - it's been wonderful having her in my life. Side note: I realize how cheesey and crunchy I sound. I think that if you have never had a dog, or if you have one but aren't really a "dog person", you may not understand and that's totally cool. I also am a cat lover and have always had cats and can say that the relationship is really different between guardians and their dogs vs. their cats. I almost think it's genetic or something! Some people like cheese. Some are chocoholics. Some people love dogs. Some people hate them. Regardless of how you feel about dogs, I hope we can all agree that the way Robert handled these perfectly healthy animals, and the total apathy Outdoor Adventures Whistler showed these dogs is unacceptable and immoral. This paragraph in particular illuminates the horror inflicted on the animals:
By the time he'd killed 15 dogs, the rest were starting to panic. This made it harder to get a clean shot on every dog, and as a consequence, the report states, "he wounded but did not kill one dog, 'Suzie.' Suzie was the mother of (Fawcett's) family's pet dog, 'Bumble.' He had to chase Suzie through the yard because the horrific noise she made when wounded caused him to drop the leash. Although she had the left side of her cheek blown off and her eye hanging out, he was unable to catch her."
Ok. Now I'm sickened and pissed off. Let's call him Fucker, instead of Fawcett, ja? No reasonably sane, mentally sound individual could be okay with doing something like that to begin with. And no healthy person would CONTINUE to slaughter the dogs after maybe the first one. Maybe some people can't envision things well - like, I have a hard time visualizing which curtains would look nice in my dining room so after one year I still have no curtains in there and the room echos something awful. Maybe Fucker is like that. Maybe he thought it would be easier and that he could suppress the voice in his head screaming that this is wrong. After doing it once and seeing the blood and really coming to terms with the fact you're killing a healthy, kind, hard working dog that did nothing but serve your employer to make everyone money is fucked up. You're not dying of starvation, lost in the woods and need to eat the dog (gross). Your boss simply can't afford to maintain these dogs. You're killing them because of the shit economy. 

Yeah. WHAT?!

When companies need to save money they have some options. They can "streamline" (fire people and make the remaining folks do triple the work and tell them they're lucky they didn't get laid off). They can sell off losing parts of the business. They can outsource. They can relocate parts of their business to Ireland for insane tax savings. When these things happen it usually involves liquidating physical assets. There is a market for the used cubicles, coffee pots, computers, data center equipment, etc. This was my dad's business for years. One unfortunate summer after college, before I got a job, I worked for him. I helped him break down rows of empty cubicles in office buildings where hundreds got laid off and help him post random shit on Ebay. Most depressing two months ever. 

It would make business sense that when Outdoor Adventures saw a severe downturn in business that they'd have to make some hard decisions. I understand this includes reducing the fleet of dogs to a more manageable size. But that's where my agreement with Outdoor "Murder Spree" Adventures ends. See. Dogs aren't desks. Nor are they a 7 year old PC that still runs the Excel version from like Windows 2000 or something. New Excel is so much prettier. Dogs are living, breathing creatures in which people have become emotionally invested and made part of their families. As a company you need to understand the risks you are assuming. In the business of running sled rides for tourists you assume the risk of managing and maintaining the welfare of things that are alive and are more complicated and more feeling than an amoeba. Outdoor Adventures needn't go out of business but the business had every moral and ethical - and I would argue it also be legal - responsibility to find alternative housing for these mush dogs or go bankrupt. Killing the dogs isn't an option. Going into a business that uses animals as sophisticated as dogs means a greater level of responsibility to your company's assets than going into business that uses tractors or fermentation barrels to make money. Outdoor Adventures: Fuck. You.

Back to Robert. The guy was probably desperate to keep his job and felt he had no choice. But he did. I'd bet my money that Outdoor Adventures didn't kidnap his kids or his wife and threaten to rape them and murder them if he didn't comply. That would not making killing the dogs okay but I would not blame him to going to irrational extremes to save his family. Alas, at worst, his employment was at risk. He lives in fukkin' CANADA, yo!! Isn't the social safety net woven out of gold?! That's what we here in 'Merica heard. It's not like Little Fucker Junior would go without his asthma medication or something because Big Daddy Fucker doesn't have a job. And Fucker could have really made this work in his favor. He could have written a letter describing the fact that the company owes these living creatures a lot more than death because business is slow and that he refuses to kill them. He should have demanded resources to assist him in placing them in homes. He should have then emailed it to create a trail. When they fired him for having balls and a soul he should have gone to every single newspaper that exists. He should have begged his way on to news programs. He allegedly called the SPCA in Canada twice and got no help - this should have been added to his scandalous revelations on TV.

Well. Glad he's so tenacious and decided it was just easier to kill the dogs... 

He is now claiming he has emotional issues because of it. Considering the fact he willingly murdered the dogs I would say he had emotional issues before, too. I don't have any sympathy for him. I would gladly be fired and collect unemployment if it meant calling attention to and stopping the execution of 100 dogs. Maybe that's why Outdoor Adventures hired Fucker. They knew he was a bad guy and views dogs in the same light as they all view their Keurig coffee machine. 

Now. The SPCA - read the article about their unwillingness to help place the dogs. They said the dogs were unadoptable, period, over the phone. Sled dogs ARE adoptable! Check out the comment on the Chronicle article by snickdog, who says it better than I could:

snickdog

5:05 AM on February 10, 2011
As this story continues to unfold, one thing keeps bothering me and that's how someone who never SAW the dogs, never evaluated them in person, could have deemed them "unadoptable." Really. How does that work? If you are sick and call your doctor, what would happen if he said you were terminally ill without ever seeing you or running tests? Would you make your funeral plans or might you want a second opinion from someone who actually SAW you, maybe ran tests (and found out you only had a stomache [sic] bug)?


These dogs never even got the chance for a FIRST opinion. While there is one killer (by his own admission) in this situation, there are others who contributed just as much, in my opinion.


First, we have a pre-conceived notion by the SPCA (who were supposed to go out, but never did - again, their own admission), fueled by a "vet who is also a behaviorist" and an "expert" -- neither of whom had EVER seen the dogs in question and don't seem to know much at all about sled dogs-- making what turned out to be a life or death decision for not one but 100 dogs. Is this ethical? You will never be able to convince me that it's ethical.


Even if I didn't have 4 sled dogs myself - all adopted from a mushing kennel - I would still think this sight-unseen "evaluation" of their adoptability was totally wrong. As someone who HAS adopted four retired/unneeded sled dogs, I feel I have the background to say they are adoptable. All of the mushers I know routinely adopt out unwanted dogs, and as their dogs reach retirement age, the mushers easily transition them into "house huskies." Racing and touring huskies are bred to get along with other dogs and with people - they have to in order to run on a team and be handled easily.


Those evaluations make no sense at all to anyone who has worked and lived with huskies. When evaluating this situation, lets not forget this horrendous ethical breach by those who felt they "knew" dogs they'd never seen; to me, they are just as much at fault, even if they didn't actually pull the trigger.
The last sentence says a lot. If the SPCA really did tell Robert they were unadoptable and turned him away then I'm with snickdog 100%.

I wish nothing but pain, suffering, and troubled times for Robert Fawcett and Outdoor Adventures. I hope they meet their end in an equally inhumane, painful way as the dogs did. I hope their lives collapse around them and they cannot find an ounce of will to carry on and live. Never have I wanted karma to be more real and more powerful. 

To the murdered mush dogs: RIP little buddies. You deserved so much more than this. To the surviving dogs: Please don't judge us all. We're not all evil. 

3.03.2011

MIA...and a new venture.

Greetings! My sincerest apologies to my two readers (Meghan and Keirsten). I have neglected this place. It's always in the back of my mind but since my laptop died it's been tough to consistently post here.

Which is why it makes little sense I started another blog. I am going to spend some time dedicating myself to it because this new blog is of noble roots and lofty goals: a FOOD blog, specifically a low carb food blog. I will document the delicious things I eat and hopefully progress in my weight loss (20 pounds is my goal). There will probably be a few posts of my dog, too, since no blog is complete without her.

Please check it out! I really want people to be inspired to change their eating habits and to share their own food ideas, successes and failures.

Hope to see you there!

http://lowcarbgangstah.blogspot.com/

12.03.2010

No-baby rabies.

I oft describe the irrational, unyielding, painfully pungent urge to have a baby, which many women experience, as Baby Rabies. Some will dispute the desire to reproduce as a biological urge; it was once put to me on a blog "well, I really want a McClaren F1, but I don't get to have one". As if reproduction were a simple desire for a thing. If wanting to make a baby were on par with wanting a really fast, really expensive car I would imagine we'd have died off before Jesus had a chance to show up. Or we'd all be very poor and living in these, having to pack entire extended families into them as they're over a millie.

I personally believe that for many women wanting to have a baby is driven by some mechanism that is beyond the control of rationalizing to cost of such a thing. After all. All species are driven to do this same exact thing, while they're simultaneously not at all concerned with wanting to possess race cars. Equating "wanting a baby" to "wanting a big house/bigger boobs/more vacation time/anything else people might want" seems idiotic. 

This is all coming form someone who has NO-Baby Rabies. 

I'm 25. Married to a wonderful man. I love my life...just the way it is, save for another dog or ten. I have no desire to have babies right now, though I can see us with children in 5+ years. I'd go so far as to say the idea of being pregnant and giving birth not only freaks the fuck out of me, but it grosses me out to the point where I don't know if I'd be mentally stable during the pregnancy. The idea of having something growing inside me and taking over my body is so repulsive I would need to drink (yet somehow I know I wouldn't jeopardize the damn alien invader), add to that THIS WHOLE FUCKING ARTICLE (on Elle.com via Gawker.com). All in all, the whole thing leaves me with a very confident feeling of "No fucking thank you". 

Well. Wouldn't you believe, they're now calling my feelings tocophobia.

Phobias are fears taken to the irrational, sometimes to the point of debilitating your daily life. You can certainly get mugged, raped and murdered by a stranger out in the world but becoming a recluse and completely avoiding the outside seems a bit excessive, right? Thus, we have a neat little term for such folks: agoraphobics. When you have a phobia you seek to avoid the thing at all costs. Having to face this thing might lead to physical reactions of increased blood pressure, hyperventilation, grabbing on to the nearest body on the observation deck of the Empire State Building whilst pissing yourself, you know the rest of it. The idea of being pregnant doesn't make me hyperventilate but I can assure you I'd be severely depressed, feeling betrayed by my body for getting pregnant against my deepest wishes, feeling trapped into a life I don't want (too soon for kids), and dreading the loss of being in charge of both my body and my life. 

This will seem insane to someone who is okay with the idea of being pregnant or, even more insanely, WANTS to be pregnant. But do I have a "phobia"?

I guess this fear is on par with the following things I have fear of:
  • Getting eaten alive by an animal (e.g: a fucking shark) OR similar horrific demise (e.g: being stabbed; cutting off my own foot)
  • Being in a human centipede, especially one of the people not in the front
  • Waking up covered in bugs/swallowing bugs/having bugs in my orifices 
  • Having a living organism grow inside my body, sucking away my energy, causing unpleasant physical symptoms each day, distorting the shape of my body permantently then causing severe pain, disfigurement that permanently affects my ability to enjoy my intimacy with my husband thus causing a depletion in self-confidence, and possible death/long term health problems once it decides to come out. Let's just keep this in perspective: human pregnancy is really not that much different than this.
I try to avoid all of the things I mentioned above because they are disgusting, horrendous and otherwise unpleasant. But again, am I "phobic" of these things? Are you? Or are we just simply fearful and turned off by them and hope to avoid them all our long, happy lives? I assure you that, if face-to-face with a great white shark in the middle of the ocean after being shipwrecked, I'd have a goddamn fucking panic attack and definitely attempt to shoot myself in the head before that thing can eat my GODDAMN FUCKING LEGS. Did reading that sentence make your heart speed up a bit? If it did, does that make you phobic of getting eaten by Jaws or just normal? I guess the deciding factor would be along the lines of: if your fear of Jaws is so great you never enter the ocean, let alone go on a boat, it might be a phobia. If you just assume death by Jaws is imminent every time you go into the ocean, which is why you make a point to drink while on the beach, then you might just be normal.

If you have a qualified phobia, and seek help to deal with it, you may need some anti-anxiety meds and you'll most likely get some Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. CBT is a type of treatment where the goal is to learn to deal with your anxiety through repeated exposure to THE THING. Over time you'll hopefully become desensitized to THE THING and will be able to go about your life more normally. In keeping with our previous example, you'll just be a beach drinker then swim with a smile plastered on your face while secretly scanning the water for shadows continuously. 

Based on some of the articles I've read, tocophobia is being seen as a widespread issue among women who have fear of pregnancy/birth. I think the diagnosis makes sense where the woman wants to have the baby naturally, but she stops herself from becoming pregnant because of the fear. For me, the disgust/fear/holyshitnoway actually turns me off to the idea completely. Like. If I never had a pregnancy in my life I would be very happy about it, just like I would be very happy about not getting bitten by a shark.  Cases like mine seem to be more common than the former - and such cases are getting the phobia label.

Maybe it is a psychological condition for some women, but looking at normal reservations, or a desire not to reproduce biologically (as opposed to adoption or a surrogate) and calling it a phobia (which, remember, is a psychological condition sometimes needing medication and behavioral treatment) classifies women as freaks or something that is broken and can (should?!) be fixed. I am one such woman. Am I broken? Because I'll admit it: I feel like a weirdo, and like less of a real woman, because I have zero cravings to grow a child in my uterus. In fact. Take the whole damn uterus out. See, that? I AM REJECTING MY FEMALE PARTS. I am a bad woman; I don't feel at one with the universe when I have my period. 

It's worth mentioning I also am not willing to deal with the physical fall out after the baby is born. I don't want a saggy stomach. I don't want to be a Queen Queefer; I want to enjoy sex with my husband. It'll be hard enough having the time and energy to bone once you have to take care of kids, let alone having to also deal with a vagina identity crisis, leaky tits, a leaky bladder, and sagging stomach. Many people will feel this makes me selfish, superficial and cruel. I am failing my husband. I am a blemish on womankind.

Granted, no one has said to me "you are a freak because you don't want a baby" but want to know what I do hear? "You'll change your mine. You'll want to be pregnant and you'll be so happy when the baby is born." The other day I got "Just get over it. Having a baby is normal." So is passing a kidney stone. I have no doubt I'd love my child and I have no doubts about my maternal instincts or ability to raise a child. Kids usually like me and I usually like them...and when that happens it's awesome. I've been head over heels in love with kids I've babysat so I can't even imagine how obsessed I'd be with my own babies. Part of me wishes I was just okay with the whole pregnancy thing. It would be easier (and cheaper - adoption is expensive!) than having to wrangle with all these extreme emotions and feeling guilty and freakish for having them. I envy women like my neighbor, who said to me that when she was pregnant she felt totally at home in your pregnant body. She said "I felt like 'This is my temple' it was so awesome". I'm jealous!I want to want this.

I think the whole thing is fucked up all around. It should be okay to have or to not have babies, and to have a family however makes you happy. Having babies is now seen as a choice more than any other time in history, it's not an assumption like it used to be, therefore the pros and cons are weighed like any other decision in life which can give more significance to things like NOT WANTING TO ACTUALLY BE PREGNANT OR HAVE YOUR VAGINA RIPPED APART. That was a bad run-on sentence. Opting-out of having kids is becoming more acceptable; I'd like to see it become acceptable to opt-out of pregnancy and adopt by choice just because you don't want to have the kid inside you...not because you're an environmentalist and worried about over population, or because you (sadly, if you want to be preg) can't have them yourself. Instead of treating this as something that needs fixing and women who don't want to be pregnant as abnormal, let's address it like another choice people have in life - none of which are wrong, or bad, or abnormal but just different than the one you want for yourself.

Besides. You tell me which is cuter:
or this

By the way, my apologies to the parents of that baby. I'm sure s/he's cute now. But fucking a, newborns are not cute to me. In fact, dogs have it made. Their pups come out in water filled sacs and are uniform in shape - what an evolutionary wonder...no enormous fucking head to put you through the ring of fire! Maybe I was just born 5,000 years too soon.

11.23.2010

Suck it up - pay for a second mobile phone...

Most people understand that there is no reasonable expectation of privacy on a work computer - it's company property, they can do what they want with it. This extends, I would think, to other devices like phones or iPads (who gets an iPad from work? But if you DID get one - don't be shady with it!). What most people probably DON'T think of is a company having control over their personal mobile phone. 

Well. Enter the grey realm, where Amanda Stanton recently found herself wandering aimlessly when her iPhone suddenly blanked out. It was dead. No calling abilities. Contacts gone. Everything just...gone. Amanda's company had send a remote wipe to her phone. Her personal phone. story was discussed in an All Things Considered piece (read and listen here).

Amanda's company claims a technician did this accidentally, but the mere fact they could do it freaked her out. And rightfully so - after all, she's the one on the hook for the device, her name is on the contract and she pays the bill every month. Her company does not reimburse her.

Before you panic: your employer probably can't do this to your personal phone. Unless, of course, you've synced up your phone with office e-mail. Once your phone is connected with the Microsoft Outlook exchange server - over which your employer has inarguable control - their control and power can reach your personal device. This technology, which isn't exactly new, can send a signal to your phone, via the exchange servers, to kill your phone's Bluetooth, GPS, disable the camera/video, or do a complete wipe like Amanda experienced. 

The argument companies make supporting this tech are along the lines of protecting itself from data breeches. If your phone contains important information that relates to the company, should your company be able to minimize risk? I would argue that in the case of a company-paid-for mobile phone the answer it 100% yes. Of course a business should be able to control the flow of data over devices it supplies. But personal phones? It would make sense that they could wipe/disable the Outlook application, archived e-mails and contacts as those things are company information but...the GPS? The video? Most companies will have you sign a waiver before syncing up but Amanda was shocked and obviously didn't get any information that her company could wipe her whole phone at will.

This all begs the questions: What reasonable expectation of privacy does a person have? What rights does a company have to protect itself? Where does the line between work and non-work lie? 


I'm going to marinate in these questions for a while. What say you? 


For now, I'd rather leave work at work. And if they want me answering e-mails from home it sure as shit won't be on my computer or on my phone. If I pay for it it's MINE MINE MINE (*stomps feet like a 3 year old*).

11.17.2010

The government is what's Loko 'round here.

I know you've heard of Four Loko. The fruity, canned beverage contains a mix of caffeine, booze, guarana and taurine (plus flavoring, sugar and some carbonated water) and packs a boozey punch equal to several beers plus several cups of coffee. It's been around for years but for some reason it's become notorious and buzzed about ad nauseam over the past month. I'll add to the discussion-nausea!

Colleges and universities have been cracking down and placing bans on possessing and consuming the drink. Now states and the feds are getting involved by trying to get the stuff completely banned. They apparently didn't realize a similar concoction is easy to recreate on your own with some energy drink, like Red Bull, and vodka. Don't forget Irish Coffee. But please don't tell them in case they want to re-instate the 18th rape-age of your freedom.

Because I really love OUTLINES, especially the kind that were drilled into us in high school, I will go with my favorite layout here:

Thesis: The government is annoying

Developmental ideas:

1. Banning Four Loko won't stop people from getting jacked up on caffeine and alcohol, and therefore it is a waste of congressional efforts and shouldn't be done. Just like I mention above, it's a simple, classic combination to keep you raging and lose your mind. It can be recreated easily, quickly and in an affordable manner therefore a ban on Four Loko will not solve the "dilemma" of people getting really shit faced and hyper.  

2. As long as no one can prove drinking Four Loko actually has an impact on rape, murder, accident and other types of crimes which are committed against others they don't have an argument. Four Loko has proven itself to be a powerful combination of elements which stupid people are having trouble handling when they drink it to excess. Call it Evolution or libertarianism (little "l", mind you), I don't give a hoot. But I retain my right to get as effed up as I would like to so long as I don't harm anyone else. This is very scary to people who don't support civil liberties and don't think people should be able to make their own choices. Please stop trying to protect me from myself, thank you.* 

If people are in hospitals because they're consuming too much of this beverage these people should feel the full weight of those choices. They should pay the subsequent hospital bills, endure the humiliation of being unable to monitor his/her own alcohol intake, deal with the wrath of family/friends, and feel all around like crap the next day or whatever health issues arise as a result. This is the only way people will learn to make better choices for themselves next time. Once we rely on external forces to make our choices for us, we lose the ability to make these choices for ourselves completely and become completely dependent upon that external force. Is that what you want? Because it's what they want.

3. Don't we have an enormous budget deficit to work on and one-sided war to wage? If this is really what these fools are worrying about, and spending their time (our tax dollars) contemplating and regulating then they should should take a pay cut. I'm not fucking kidding. Do something worthwhile that will actually impact the country in a beneficial way. Like fixing the SS system. Or keeping the internet free. Not financially free, idiot.  

Conclusion: Rational choice theory, per economics, employs a utilitarian method of approaching an issue. If the gains are greater than the costs, a choice is rational. If we exclude my Big Brother paranoia for a minute we can conclude the proposed bans are irrational as far as the government's true purpose. Because there is not measurable harm on society (no proven link to increase in homicide, bankruptcy, unemployment, rape - anything that affect society negatively when rates change in some way) that can be directly attributed to Four Loko and yet it costs tax payers money to have these buffoons put the bans in place, and time spend addressing Four Loko means time NOT being spent on issues that are actually important, I argue the cost to society is much greater than the non-existent gain. 

HOWEVER. If you're on the same page of Paranoia, A Novel as I am and see the government as an entity that doesn't care about your civil liberties and fear we're going by way of V for Vendetta, you'll agree they're being quite rational. Any legislation that removes personal choice from the people is gain for them.

It appears I am getting worked up over potential bans on a drink I've never even consumed (and don't want to consume - I like my Santa Margarita Reisling), precisely because we need to react in full force to every push against our ability to make our own lifestyle choices. How easy is it to justify prohibition? Very easy. Drinking inhibits your physical functions, your mental functions, there is an established medical addiction linked to it, etc. Being totally disciplined, straight edged and completely focused on productivity maximizes your value to society. Hell, I'm almost convinced. Do you really want to die knowing the only thing you ever lived for was maximizing your benefit to society? Pretty bleak. That's why I'm hitting an innocuous issue so hard. It's one regulation at a time. It's getting sexually assaulted by TSA at the airport - legally. It's being told how to spend your free time. It's government curfews. It happens slowly, over time, so you don't notice it.

*I have a heart condition which forces me to limit my intake of stimulants. I can't drink much caffeine without getting heart palpitations and, if I have enough, tachycardia. I am, shockingly, able to regulate my consumption of uppers (in my case, this just means caffeine) without the government seizing my medical records and removing my Dunkin' Donuts Trubo ground coffee from my kitchen "for my own good".

11.16.2010

What do I have on my plate?

No, this isn't a post complaining about having too much shit to do. I just wanted to share what was actually on my dinner plate this evening.


Do you have a few meals you consider favorites but they're not exactly something you might brag about? Most people will agree on the finer things - a glass of good champagne, hunks of real Parmesan cheese, truffles, dark chocolate sprinkled with sea salt, your grandmother's meatballs and homemade sauce, your mom's apple pie. You get the idea. But then, on your list, you might sneak on a Big Mac or Kraft Mac 'N Cheese, or deep fried pickles dipped in peanut butter (I just made that up and it sounds totally gross - I wonder if anyone really eats that?!). 


This Secret Favorite Foods list is secret because it can be a little embarrassing. It's not exactly the kind of secret that'll keep you out of the FBI (unless magic brownies is on your list) but they're not very brag-worthy food items. Not saying you have to go around impressing everyone with your sophisticated taste in food but you might get a few looks when you reveal to your coworkers you eat the same thing for dinner 5 nights a week that they go home and feed their kids at 5:30 PM - which, of course, is not what they eat themselves at 7:30 PM. 


Some foods on my list:
- Pizza: this isn't embarrassing but I am truly addicted. I eat pizza once a week at minimum, and I only limit my consumption because I am trying not to weight 300 lbs. 
- College Casserole: My own creation which can be made in a dorm without a kitchen (Annie's Mac N Cheese, peas and honey battered chicken nuggets) 
- White wine spritzers: I started this over the summer to help keep myself hydrated when drinking and also slow me down. But now I can't break the habit, even when I'm drinking a $30 bottle of wine. Pretty embarrassing. No, I don't "cut" my reds with anything.
- And a newcomer: Chicken and rice casserole...with mayonnaise. This has been on my list as one of my top comfort foods since I was a kid but I forgot about it for years. I remembered it on Sunday and was ravenous for it. My mom didn't remember the recipe but it was something she got from Arthur Roebuck who ran catering around our area. I found something online that sounded similar to what she remembered and it was spot-on. So delicious, comforting and easy. Here's what I did...


Chicken and Rice Casserole (inspired by Arthur Roebuck's British Relief Restaurant)
4 boneless, skinless chicken tits*
2 cups rice, any kind you like (I used Uncle Ben's quick cooking brown rice)
Chicken stock for cooking the rice**
2 Bay leaves
1 can of Campbell's Cream of Chick condensed soup
1 cup of mayo, I happen to like Cain's
2 tbl. whole grain mustard, I use Maille because Giada likes it
1 lemon, juiced
Few cups of Corn Flakes, OR crushed Ritz OR whatevs the hell you want to use that's crunchy and makes you happy
Pepper to taste


Preheat your dragon-fire heated stove to 350 degrees F


1. Poach chicken. Google it if you're confused. I do it in broth for extra flavor. Once they're cooked let them cool for a few minutes then shred those bitches.
2. Cook rice as directed on box except see my SUPER IMPORTANT NOTE below that says USE BROTH and the bay leaves. This is the kind of simple move in the kitchen that separates the people who give a shit about what they're making and the ones that cause dinner guests to suggest going to a restaurant next time they want to see you. What kind of rice do YOU want to make, huh?
    2b. Pick out the bay leaves and discard.
3. In a 9x12ish casserole dish put all the ingredients EXCEPT Corn Flakes (includes cooked/shredded chicken + cooked rice).
4. Put your Corn Flakes on top of that shit. I crunch them up a little and push them down into the mushy layer. Some people might be inclined to put some melted butter on there, too. I didn't because our toilet was spewing (clean) water so I threw it in the oven as it was and ran to observe the excitement in the bathroom. 
5. Cook for about 30-40 minutes - until crust is really golden.


* I actually only used 3.5 boobies since I gave a few very large hunks to Ruby. She was being so CUTE, I couldn't resist.
** Please don't use water. That's not flavorful and therefore ghetto.


Finished product - not the best lighting and not the best looking dish but I promise, it is yummy

11.15.2010

Back.

I should probably talk about the wedding and honeymoon and my initial thoughts on being married but let's talk about more exciting things than an overpriced party and my relationship?

How about talking about something that has pretty much been discussed at length already? Over on Amy Alkon's blog she posted a series of videos posted by Sam Dodson and his experience with TSA in an airport. There is also this guy.

Please read the posts - I'm not going to recap their stories. And besides, the three videos relating Mr. Dodson's experience are much more powerfully appalling than what I could relay in a paragraph. But yes, read the posts not just so the rest of my post makes sense, but because we need to spread their experiences to as many people as possible. 

Here are some of the excuses ("supporting arguments" if we want to be generous) used by people who agree with TSA regs and believe the current system is both necessary and good for the safety of fliers. 

1. "You already knew you could be subjected to [a pat down; the sexual predator x-ray device; being sniffed by a dog; etc.] before coming in so you shouldn't be upset/complain"

So because I knew I could be sexually molested by a TSA screener before I entered the airport, it's ok? That's exactly like telling a person she deserved to get raped because she wore a short skirt - she asked for it, silly! Stupid woman shouldn't make herself look so FINE. How does flying on a plane somehow make molestation acceptable? The logical steps used to arrive at their conclusion (justification for sexual assault on your crotch) escape me because there are no steps - it simply doesn't make sense that flying on a plane and having someone touch around your genitalia go hand in hand. Or crotch in hand, if you want to be cheeky.

2. (Or, 1. Part B) "If you don't like it, don't fly"

And again. If you don't want to get raped, don't leave your house. Or if you don't like the way animals who are raised for meat are raised, become a vegetarian. All three "solutions" are extreme reactions to problems that have much more straight forward and reasonable fixes. For example, if you don't want to get raped take self-defense, carry a weapon, get in your cardio at the gym and generally use common sense. If you don't like how meat animals are raised, get educated on how they're treated and encourage people to eat locally from farms you know raise the animals with respect and care - even though that means pricier meat and you eat it less often. As for flying, we shouldn't just succumb to their violations and demands or rely on outmoded ways to travel. As far as I thought we weren't yet being raised for meat. Let's try and keep it that way. Know your rights. Complain. Blog about it. Make a fuss (politely, intelligently). 

3. "It's for your safety/to catch terrorists."

When all citizens are presumed to be terrorists and anyone's civil rights can be violated at any moment - searched without reason, without a warrant, just because an agent feels like it - isn't making us safer. It's just swapping out Dangerous Group A with Dangerous Group B. I believe Mr. Dobson described this as slowly molding us into sheep. Instead of just coming out and taking away all our rights they chip away at them slowly so we almost don't notice. We become compliant. Willing. We don't question. Dissent isn't an exercise in free speech or an assertion of rights - it's an attempt to hurt America. It undermines the State. As the video shows, those individuals are dealt with swiftly and harshly. Do you want to be able to speak your mind calmly and thoughtfully without being accused of causing trouble, being a public nuisance and being a potential terrorist?

A commenter on Amy's site, Jim posted the following:
Just curious what the proposed solution is. There's plenty of Againstism in punditry these days, but the result of catastrophic failure for a security protocol is jaw-droppingly extreme and something besides complaining about security should enter into the dialogue.
Sure, we should hire smarter TSA employees -- but in what category of life would smarter employees not be an improvement?
No searches? Just search brown young men w/ beards?
All security is invasive on some level, and has to keep changing and improving and elevating -- unless someone thinks the cadre of murderous sociopaths will just give up trying or are too stupid to think ahead.
Clearly some of them are stupid, or not smart enough, but even a cockroach learns by trying.
Posted by: Jim Hames at November 14, 2010 9:42 AM
It's true - there's a lot of Against-ism around the blogs and interwebs. Unfortunately, I am not researched-enough, and do not possess the resources necessary to come up with a viable solution that eliminates the violation of rights and government-approved sexual assault and pedophilia. It was my impression that there are people being paid by tax payers whose sole job is to actually figure this shit out. But let's start with his comment about hiring smarter TSA employees. I agree - smarter people tend to bring greater benefits to their employers than dumb people. Of course, smarts is subjective. A smart estate attorney might help his client avoid lots of money in taxes but that lawyer's smarts might not make him a good TSA screener. So, I'd prefer it if Jim didn't make light of the need for better trained, hand-picked personnel. We need agents who have intelligence background, are not rewarded for the sheer quantity of persons they detain and question, and are preferably lacking in NPD (narcissistic personality disorder) or LPS (little penis syndrome). National security isn't a pissing contest. And that applies to women, too. No ego maniacs allowed. These people should be tightly managed and have the constitution memorized and accept it as The Word.  The Israelis use university students who previously spent time in the military. Given the safety/success track record of Israeli airports maybe we should follow their lead and hire - of all people - young'uns! I support this, in particular, because younger people tend to be more self-righteous observers of individual freedoms and rights, as most college students I know go through a period of anti-police-state indignation around this time in life. That is one holier than thou attitude the TSA is allowed to keep.

Jim then goes on to make a quip at searching people with beards. In other words, he challenges the concept of racial profiling. This method is used successfully in Israel and allows most citizens, who are not terrorists, to get through the airport with minimal violation of their rights, body and time. But, oh, how offensive this is to Americans. Even if this method has a proven track record when applied fairly and correctly by trained persons, it's so politically incorrect that people won't even entertain the concept. Racial profiling can be done badly and it can hurt minority groups - and it has in our country in the past and today, even if it's not an official policy. Prejudice and bias are bad. Racial profiling in an airport isn't necessarily those things. Again. Look to Israel.

His last point discusses how, with security, there is inevitably some level of violation. And...what? Well I'm not entirely sure since he didn't complete his thought, but I'll anticipate it and reply snarkily: That means we should just allow TSA agents to look at naked pictures of us and our children? Or to feel around our private areas? And how about forced vaginal exams just to see if there is an explosive in there? Or being forced to have our breasts fondled to make sure there aren't bombs in our tits? Having my license plate run against some database is a slight violation, being sexually assaulted or forced to show my ID for no reason and being hassled without cause is not - those are egregious behaviors that should be eliminated and people who perpetrate these crimes should be fired and fined. Yes. We should just fire the TSA and sue the lot of them. Because we should expect some inconvenience and have to deal with not being able to travel truly freely doesn't mean anyone should have carte blanche authority over our bodies or our belongings. The idea that it's all or nothing seems poorly thought out and very lazy.

So, Jim, after all your complaining about against-ists and their empty complaints and arguments you present your own empty words - just a bunch of contrary-for-the-sake-of-it b.s. Sorry to just randomly pick Jim's comment and get huffy with it but it seemed so ridiculous that I couldn't resist. 

Update: Crazy fucking news story about a 3-year old being frisked.  

9.23.2010

8 Days.

Things crossing my mind.

- I was annoyed that the DJ had a hard time understanding I don't want all Top 100 songs. In fact, there will be very few of those (unless you look at Top 100 from different eras, like "Top 100 Songs of the 80s"...)
- Also annoyed that Dave even suggested "Mr. and Mrs. HisFirst HisLast" as one option for the grand entrance. We're past that. I thought. I'm sick of that entire conversation.
- Worried about the ten day forecast. It says rain. All. Week. No more going to weather.com.
- Stressed that the wedding has been so all-consuming that I haven't had sufficient time to keep on my exercise regime. If I could just take the dog with me to kickboxing or the gym I'd be wonderful. (Which leads me to one of my many business ideas...)
- Good bye, savings account. It was nice knowing you. Hello big, scary bills.
- How am I supposed to be normal at work for the next few days? I am way too hyper off of OMGI'MGETTINGMARRIEDINAWEEK drugs to function normally. 
- It would be nice if my stomach normalized. It's been a mess for two months.
- SO PUMPED FOR THE BACH PARTY!!!
- Also, SO PSYCHED TO GET MARRIED!!!
- I think I'll go see The Town tomorrow. Seems like a nice, low-key thing to do. I need to do anything but think about the wedding until a week from now.

9.14.2010

Three weeks.

Three weeks from now I will be a married woman. 

That should make me freak out but it's not. 

Here are the things currently ensuring my stomach sees no end to its turmoil and are tops in my thoughts:

1. Paying for the wedding. Even though our wedding spending falls well below the national average, it's still a lot for us to swallow. I can't stop thinking of the opportunity costs. $17,000 could have given our small kitchen a face lift (new crown molding, painted cabinets, new door knobs/handles, etc: 3,000) as well as our bathroom (new tile: 1,000 with installation), and furniture for the t.v. room. With change to spare. I doubt I will ever, ever, come to terms with this. It just feels irrational. And yet I have a hard time thinking of how we'd celebrate the wedding in a different way that would feel right. Ahh, lovely paradoxical brain.

2. I haven't lost a pound of the weight I wanted to lose for the wedding. Also, I am just sick of having to defend my feelings whether its to "society" or to feminists. I just want to lose some weight and not have a pooch, OKAY PEOPLE?! Don't make me feel like that's not enough weight to lose ("you can never be too thin!"), or that I am giving in to the evil patriarchy.

Here I am, feeling a bit chubbier than I'd like and not understanding wtf what going on with my bod. Then this nugget comes across my radar. I think my parents having an ugly divorce, me being newly estranged from my father, my mom having to sell the house I grew up in to a snotty woman then helping my mom move, all while planning a wedding that is a bit more money and a bit more elaborate than I am totally comfortable with..and I'd say I have me some chronic stress (well, like at least 3-5 months of hard core stress). So, even though I upped the cardio and eliminated extra carbs I lost no weight. Which was frustrating. Because I wanted my arms to look cut in my strapless dress. My hope is immediately after the reception my body spontaneously loses 15 pounds, so all the sweating and pain I endured in an un-airconditioned smelly octagon every Tuesday and Thursday over the summer weren't in vain.

3. I could easily be freaking out about the fact I will have huge zits at my wedding. Because that's another way my body reacts to stress in addition to chub: ZITS. I've been battling breakouts all summer. My skin is healing right now and looks great. I have come to understand this will not last. Especially since the change in seasons typically means zits for most people, just generally speaking. My skin will be flawless until the day before the wedding, when something large, red, inflamed and with its own pulse develops on my face. Maybe it will bring some friends. Hey. Zits want to party at my wedding, too! I've just come to terms that this will happen and I will have to rely heavily on my make up artist and Photoshop. I let myself be sad about this in advance so when it happens, and it will, I won't be surprised. It'll just be "oh, well, I already knew about this." I hope that's how I react...

I'll try my best to fight back, though. My routine:
AM: Very warm, wet face cloth on my face to wake me up. Followed by some tinted moisturizer and a light mineral foundation. Concealer where needed. Bit of blush. Some mascara. That's it. 
PM: This is a bit more complicated. I use Mario Badescu Enzyme Cleansing Gel 5 nights a week, the other two I use MB Glycolic Foaming Cleanser. The Glycolic cleanser doesn't irritate my skin but gives me an extra bit of chemical exfoliation. I use it Tuesdays/Thursdays after kickboxing! The Enzyme cleanser is gentle, smells great, removes all the gunk on my face and leaves my skin glowing and fresh. Never squeaky clean (squeaky clean = bad).

I ALWAYS cleanse with my Clarisonic Mia. I've noticed a huge reduction in clogging since I started this cleansing routine of MB+the Mia. My pores are cleaner and less noticeable. My skin is smoother. LOVE. Cleansing follow-up:

Eucerin Q-10 Anti-Wrinkle Cream for Sensitive Skin. I love this. I don't really need it when it's hot out but a dab on my face, and more during the winter, keeps my skin hydrated and happy. It's not greasy. It doesn't make me break out. It's gentle. It doesn't react badly with my other products. I love it. Can't speak for the wrinkle fighting properties, though, since I don't have those. Yet. 

I alternate:
Night 1 - Vitamin C Serum, let that soak in for an hour or two then I put on some zit   stuff. Are you shocked it's all MB? I love Mario's products. They're simple to use, targeted for specific issues, affordable and they work. I use the Vitamin C serum to even out my skin tone. I find that it's helping remnants of past zits to fade faster. 
Night 2 - Up until last week I would use Azelex on Night 2, but recently switched to a retinol. The fall, as we know, can lead to break outs. Making sure my skin is shedding dead cells at a good rate will help curb break outs and reduce blackheads. Also, retinol helps fade acne marks. I use this one. It works fine - I'm peeling a bit in some areas but expect my skin to adjust by next week. It's a low concentration so it isn't as irritating as ones I've gotten at the derm's. 


Other: I hit dark red post-acne spots with, yes, an MB product. It definitely reduces the redness.

I wish I could afford a light therapy facial to annhilate all the bacteria in my skin so that there would be zero chance of a break out - but I don't have $200!

There you have it. Three weeks out from my wedding and I'm hung up on skin care. All products discussed in this post were discovered by and purchased by me. My blog is not cool enough to warrant getting swag.



8.02.2010

Smooth sailing or just the eye of the storm?

The past few weeks have brought a great deal of anxiety and stress my way. My stomach hasn't handled foods correctly in at least 8 days. I'll spare you the details but it feels yucky. The wedding shower was two Fridays ago and it was really lovely. Lots of great people came to celebrate; everyone was excited; the food and drink were good. It was much more of a "girls night out" than your typical Sunday brunch. There were no cheesey games but there was a theme drink called the Blue Hislastname (which was actually a personal jab against me b/c my aunts think I am a Really Bad Person for planning to keep my name).

There was other drama, too. My aunts are very in-your-face about stuff; my mom is very non-confrontational and non-aggressive. They picked on her for stupid shit, mostly because I think they felt they were working harder than she was (because they need things to be beyond perfect, whereas she needs them to be really awesome but is reasonable about her blood pressure). In fact, they made my mom cry. She ended up not having that much fun because they were mean to her prior to the party then scolded her for not being involved. Then when I was opening presents I was told I had to open them faster - but all the women said not to because they enjoyed seeing everything. Plus all eyes were on me so that made me feel a little crazy. It was a great time but I am just trying to create a picture in your mind of stupid little arguments, battles of opinions and a fight for control. Those issues seem to be common among most brides and have been a source of stress.

They've been pecking away at my shield of protective positive thoughts. Also. My parents are going through a ridiculous divorce. My dad is awful and I don't speak to him. The house my siblings and I grew up in is being sold and my mom is moving 30 minutes (FAR!) away. I am wavering about what I am going to go back to school to do. All that combined with the planning and financing of a wedding has made me a bit irritable. My fuse is shorter. Which in turn caused tension between Dave and me.

Then I went for a long walk and talked with Dave's sister and played with our dogs. It was a good two hour breather out in the woods where I kind of decided to let it go. She assured me that irritability and freakouts-over-nothing seem to happen to everyone before they get married (male and female). She said she knew a lot of people who break up, albeit very quietly, before their wedding. I focused on the fact Dave and I aren't near that point and the progress Dave and I made earlier in the day (bridesmaid dresses and groom/groomsmen attire all selected and ordered; first fitting in my dress that AM and I loved my dress more than I remembered!) and allowed that hurdle-jumping victory to be the center of my thoughts. When I went home I sat Dave down and we talked through some of our stupid little annoyances and concerns that seemed to be cropping up as a result of the stress we are both under (me in particular b/c of the family stuff). After that it was about 8 PM and we decided to cook a nice bolognese because it was cool and comfy. A delicious meal, cooked together, is always cathartic. We went to bed at 10 and slept for a solid 10 hours. In the morning I went to an awesome yoga class with my neighbor then came home to write shower thank-yous. Any lingering stress melted away. 

I feel so ready for the wedding to come -and to go. Finally, two months before the wedding, I feel I am able to just sit back and relax. Any worries I had seem to be really minor and manageable - so it's safe to say I feel like I am in my normal frame of mind. The weird 1-2 month period of out of control stress I felt is gone and I'm ready to ride this wave all the way to the wedding. 

Ahhhhh....