Friday, August 12, 2016


Wow.  2 years since my last post.  In truth I would have guessed it had been longer.  I guess I'm not the kind that feels the need to pour my heart out to the cold, cruel internet all the time.  Just sometimes...

Ed moved to Berkeley and I learned to live on my own.  I liked it.  No one to answer to.  Ice cream for dinner.  It was good.  I did get lonely eventually, though.

Work.  VCA was the pits.  The pay was way below standard for a licensed RVT.  It was an excellent first job, though.  I got comfortable dealing with emergencies, loved interacting with and educating clients, but I stayed far longer than I should have.  I loved my coworkers, though, and I think that's why I stayed so long.  Then they got a new corporate manager and everything went downhill fast.  Luckily, at the same time, a seal and sea lion rescue and rehabilitation place had some contract work.

So, I've been working there on 3 month contracts for over a year now.  They are almost ready to finally hire someone.  My whole life is hanging on this decision and it is driving me insane.  First, I got evicted...  Wait.  Let me back up first.

So, for months on and off I was looking on OkCupid and meeting a few guys here and there.  Some were ridiculously bad dates.  Most were just ok, but nothing I had interest in continuing.  I had gone on like THE WORST date with one guy that I was really into from his profile and had another lined up the next weekend that I wasn't so sure about when a third guy sent me a message.  I didn't want to go on the date that was already scheduled, so I blew him off.  Figured I'd go on this one last date since it was a commitment and then quit again for awhile.  But, right after that 2nd date when I had got home early because this whole internet dating thing was totally stupid and a waste of time I got one more message from that other guy I had blown off.  There was something in the message's tone as well as its contents that made me decide to hang on for just one more potentially bad date.

So, Clark and I met at a tiki bar.right around the block from my apartment.  We had one drink amongst the zombies that were hanging out waiting for the zombie walk to start (or maybe it was after -who knows?).  The conversation started out awkward and shaky, but toward the end of our drinks I thought there might be something there.  We left and went for a walk.  We walked around the entire west side of the island.  Right past my apartment twice.  I bit my tongue and kept where I lived to myself for safety sake, but I was tempted...

Now there's no secretes 'cause we live together.  It's going great.  I'd never imagined I'd be able to find someone like him or have a relationship like this one.  Now my fingers are crossed for us being like this forever.  I think we're both committed to making that happen.

So, back to the original story.  I moved in with him.  Landlord was ok and then not ok and then ok and then not ok with the dog living there.  To be fair, it was a tiny studio with 2 adults and a 70lb dog, but we were getting by just fine.  That is, until we were evicted.  Well, I think we were forced out, not technically evicted.  All of the neighbors were forced out too.  It sucked.  Finding another apartment with the dog was super hard, but we just moved to a 2 bedroom duplex in Cotati with a yard and it's been great so far!

Work at the seal/sea lion rehab place.  It's definitely a cool thing to be a part of, but there are definite ups and downs.  What the Center does is great.  They are committed to their mission to help seals and sea lions in need of medical care, but also public education and science.  At any given time they have 20 to 30 research projects looking at the impact of antibiotic use, environmental toxins, food sources and reproduction, and even human behavior and neurologists looking at sea lion brains to better understand human epilepsy. Cool stuff!

But, some of my skills are rusting away.  There are days I'm on top of the world because I rocked a difficult anesthesia or even a CSF tap or something else that I'd never get to do in a regular vet practice.  But there are also days when I do nothing but restrain animals and get treated like I can't be trusted to do anything but take a length measurement and do nasal and rectal swabs.

Right in the middle of our move to Cotati last month my car threw a Check Engine light.  It has a multitude of other issues too that make me think its time is limited.  So, I've spent weeks researching cars, gas mileage, and the feasibility of an electric due to my long commute.  The problem is, same as finding a new apartment, the decision really hinges on where I'm working.  If I'm not commuting 88 miles a day to the seal place then I don't really need an electric car with all of its unknowns like how long the batteries will last, capacity degradation, etc.  So, I'm trying to hold out until they make a hiring decision by the end of September.

And that's where I'm at.  You're all caught up.  Maybe I'll post again in a couple more years!

Friday, January 04, 2013

Applying for the apartment lease on my own -fingers crossed!

So, I'm going on 2 months of employment and was just hired on full time.  Ed asked last night if I was still planning on trying to stay in the apartment and I said yes.  Next he asked how soon he could get the lease switched over to me.  I pointed out that it will put me in jeopardy of losing the place altogether since my income is so low compared to the rent and then I asked him why he wanted his name off the lease so badly.  He had no answer. 

Today I got the lease application in my email.  We'll see how this goes...  The rent is $1050.  My income, assuming a full 40hrs/wk is $2650/month.  So, I certainly don't qualify under the requirements spelled out on the app of income must be over 3x rent. 

It sucks that there's no dialog between Ed and I over this, but it isn't surprising.  I think that's the central issue in our marriage.  I felt bad for my complaints and dramatic moments at first, but the longer I think about it the more convinced I become that I'm pretty normal.  The complete lack of any feedback whatsoever from Ed's side of the issue was what killed us.  I never heard any complaints from him until he said we were done.  I had no chance to see his side and change my behavior or seek ways to save whatever it was that I thought we had.  That's freaking sad.

Am I bitter?  Yes.  Although I've tried hard not to be.  I may have threatened to leave, but I never seriously considered it.  I feel bad for saying those things now, but at the time I was trying to get some sort of a sense that he didn't want it to end because I wasn't feeling anything coming from him.  I was trying to provoke a sense that he had a feeling about us one way or the other.  Anything other than his silent head nodding, chuckles, or complete lack of attention.  In the end I guess there was nothing.  I wonder at what point he knew -while we were planning the wedding, while standing at the alter, before I decided to switch careers, before moving to California?

And I have to say up front that I don't regret my career change in the slightest.  I'm quite happy with what I'm doing now, but it angers me when I think of how we talked about the reduced income before I made the decision to go back to school.  We decided together we could take the income hit.  Now it's only ME taking the hit.  I'm left to try to survive on my own on half the income I was making before.  I hope I can do it.  All my dreams are within reach right here, right now.  -I have a job I love, and my volunteering which I'm super proud of and is so fulfilling! 

So, what if the lease gets denied?  My choices are to find a cheaper place which seems very difficult or impossible if I am to keep the dogs and not live in a place where gunfire is commonplace, or I move back to Chicago, probably in with my Mom for who knows how long until I can afford an apartment out there.  My research seems to suggest that the cost of rent and my income will go down about the same amount, meaning I'll be just as unable to support myself out there as I will here.  So, 37 years old and living with Mom.  Awesome.  And I get no hint that Ed understands the inequity of the situation at all.  Afterall, he'll be left with his 6 figure income and life will just roll on for him with even fewer expenses. 

But I can't let myself go too far down that road ...I'm hoping that something will work out.  I'm willing to live on ramen to have the life that I've worked so hard to get lined up for myself.  This is an unexpected hardship, for sure, but I'm willing to work soo hard for this and I was floored at the help I got from the people around me while I was looking for a job -now I know that I have those resources in my corner as well.  So, I'm holding on to some sort of cosmic fate (which I so often laughed at in the past) that goodness will triumph.  That hard work and passion will see me through.  ...gag me, I know, but it's all I have to try outweigh the months worth of anger, frustration, and doubt being thrown at me from the left side of my brain...  :-(

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Being emo

It took awhile to sink in, but I think it's finally dawning on me.  A partner isn't someone who simply lives a life parallel to yours.  I thought that was enough, just like I thought 'nice' was enough.  But 'nice' can be a mask for the meaness underneath.  And 'there' can quickly turn to abandonment.

Yes, trusting again will be hard.  But maybe I never trusted in the first place.  And maybe there was no trust because I knew he wouldn't be there when I fell.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Old Ray

I'm taking a break from a lot of self pity at the moment to write about something uplifting.  At my externship at Marine Mammal Center back in March-May we had a California Sea Lion "restand" (meaning he'd been picked up, rehabilitated, and released before) named "Old Ray".

The backstory is that when Old Ray was picked up the first time the vet suspected leptospirosis, a parasite that attacks the kidneys.  But, when he was sedated for an exam, they noticed some hard lumps on his neck and decided to take some x-rays.  The radiographs showed that Old Ray had shot gun pellets and a bullet (probably a .22 caliber) lodged near his jaw.  But, because he had no wounds the vet decided that the bullet and shot were just incidental findings.  Old Ray was fattened up and when at a decent weight and acting well, they released him.

Shortly before I started at Marine Mammal Center in mid-March, Old Ray was picked up again.  He was reported by a concerned citizen that said they saw blood coming from his eye.  So, once again, Marine Mammal Center's Rescue team went out, caught him, and brought him back to the medical center in Sausalito, Ca.

This time Old Ray's left eye was severely damaged or missing and the right eye appeared to have a cataract. It was clear that if he could see at all his vision was not very good.  So, Old Ray was sedated and more x-rays were taken in order to determine if he had been shot again.  Unfortunately, because there were so many pellets on the previous radiograph, it was difficult to tell if he had been shot again.  Either way, Old Ray's prospects of being were not good if he couldn't see, so they started the paperwork required to try to place him in a zoo.

Once the paperwork was filed and it was clear that Old Ray was going to be staying with TMMC for awhile, the vetstaff decided to move him to a larger pen with a bigger and deeper pool and I was lucky enough to be one of the people who got to move him to the new pen.  I can't tell you how great it was to watch him feel the pool, then dive in and go straight to the bottom before jumping out on the other side and seeming to look (or more likely smell) at the beautiful rocky beach viewable from his new home.

I left to go back to Chicago with a quick goodbye.  After the move I was careful not to spend too much time with Old Ray because it was clear I had some affection for him even though there was no guarantee that a happy ending was in store for him.  So, when I moved to the Bay area in June and went back to volunteer at Marine Mammal Center, it was with some caution that I inquired about Old Ray.

It turned out he was still there, but he had undergone cataract surgery.  While Old Ray was pretty laid back and calm before the surgery, after it he became much more active and more aggressive.  Immediately the vet staff stopped any training he was undergoing and they are now evaluating him once again for release!

Due to space constraints, however, since I've been back Old Ray has been back in a smaller pen.  Today he got a new penmate, though!  A small sea lion pup named Whirlybird.  Whirlybird was rescued because he is blind.  It appears he had some trauma to both eyes and the penmate he was with was bullying him and not allowing him to eat.  So, the vet staff decided to try putting him in with Old Ray.  They were an unlikely couple since Old Ray is a very large adult, but again I was lucky enough to be on the team of people that moved Whirlybird.

So, we opened Whirlybird's pen and "boarded" him out of his old pen and into the new one (basically pushed him with large wooden shield-like boards).  When Whirlybird entered the pen, Old Ray came out of the water barking.  But quickly his barks grew softer.  And he moved closer, sniffed Whirlybird, and then backed up.  He continued a repetitive, soft bark while backing up the ramp that lead into the pool.  And eventually Whirlybird caught on and followed the sound of Old Ray's barks and entered the water.  Old Ray followed and they swam together for awhile before Old Ray allowed Whirlybird to have the pool to himself.

We let them be at that point, but when it came time for the afternoon feed I quickly grabbed the fish bucket for Old Ray and Whirlybird's pen to see how they'd do eating together.  When I arrived at the door, Whirlybird was sitting right in front of the door and Old Ray was in the pool.  I entered the pen to try to board Whirlybird into the pool (they can only be fed in the water to simulate the hunting in the water that they need to do in the wild).  But Whirlybird would not move.  I threw a couple fish in the pool and Old Ray began barking once again.  When I tried again to push Whirlybird up toward the ramp to the pool, Old Ray came out of the pool and toward me and Whirlybird.  Since he's an adult sea lion I quickly retreated from the pen and called in a more experienced person to help.

A fellow volunteer, Stan, entered the pen and Old Ray was at the top of the ramp barking at Whirlybird.  When Stan pushed Whirlybird toward the ramp Old Ray just watched silently for a moment and then began barking again.  Whirlybird then started moving forward and Old Ray backed up and continued barking until Whirlybird made it into the water and then Old Ray jumped in.  We were then able to dump the fish in the water and leave them to eating.

It was so heartwarming to see the interaction between those two and I'm happy to say that Indianapolis zoo is currently thinking about taking Old Ray if he starts doing better in confinement and if he's  not deemed well enough to release!  It's a good thing too because if I wasn't attached to this poor dude before I certainly am now!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Getting ready for my Marine Mammal Center externship!

My brother and my Mom came over this weekend to help fix a few things around the house and get some cleaning done as well.  We got the upstairs bathroom cleaned, the kitchen, the downstairs bathroom, and also got lots of stuff to Goodwill.

Then I drove my Mom home with the dogs and all their stuff, spent the night, and left in the morning.  That was this morning and it was hard to leave them knowing I wouldn't see them for two months.  I came home, got the fish out of the fishtank, and brought them to Aquarium Adventures.  Now I'm taking a break while the wash machine is going before starting to figure out what I'm bringing and how I'll pack. 

It's been crazy, but I can't wait to see Ed.  It's just so hard being torn between him and the dogs and feeling so unsettled.  Still, working with seals and sea lions should be well worth it.  I'm super excited!  But also stressed out and nervous with everything there is to think about:  mail, the grass getting mowed, and trying to think of everything I'll need for the next 2 months that I'll be away from home #1.  I think I'll feel better once I'm on the plane.  Until then it's work, work, work!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Animal Shelter Drama

The shelter I've volunteered for for 4 years or so is close to collapse and it makes me so sad.  It's not a money issue.  It has nothing to do with the animals.  It's the people.  And it's such a shame.

I've had issues with them, but most of the issues surrounded the Director and I was really hopeful the shelter would improve after he left this fall.  But, instead, internal conflict between Board Members and Members of the shelter is making it much, much worse.

At this point it's devolved into 2 groups of people that hate each other enough to stop talking to anyone perceived to not be on their side.  Membership meetings, I'm told, are full of accusations and attempts to bring the other side down.  And no one seems to be trying to make things work.  In fact, one side has started a public blog defending their position and they are bringing the whole shelter down in the process.

So, here's me.  I'd love to start a shelter of my own one day.  And here's what I see:  a fantastic facility, in a good location, with a surgery room to benefit not only their own animals, but the animals of the community as a whole as well.  And it's going to waste over ego, in-fighting, grudges.  It's a shame.  I wish people would step back and take a look at what they are doing, let go of hurt feelings, take a look at the facts, and find a way to work together.  I'm just afraid that they won't know what they had until they destroy it.  :(

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Paleo Diet Day 1

First of all, I'm in this for weight loss, but also looking at this as a way to maintain my goal weight once I get there.  So...

Starting weight:  147 this morning, been fluctuating up to 149 over the last week.
Diet:  A little all over the place today since I didn't go shopping with this diet in mind yet (aside from dinner). 
  • Breakfast:  2 eggs 
  • Lunch:  3 slices of bologna with 2 slices of cheese and a sun dried tomato chicken sausage
  • Dinner:  Thai Chicken Curry Soup 
  • Beverages:  Coke Zero and a Lo-Carb Monster
So, today was more of an Atkins/Paleo day and I'm disregarding the Paleo idea of no soda or caffeine (baby steps!).  My Mom is coming to stay the weekend with me, so I'll be off the diet until Monday anyway.  After that I intend to be more Paleo and not eat processed meats and minimize dairy as much as possible.  The soup was AMAZING!!!  In fact, I ended up expanding the recipe a bit after tasting it.  I used 2 13oz cans of coconut milk and 32oz of chicken stock and added carrots as well.  I thought I wanted more chicken, and maybe to be Paleo I should have more, but the chicken wasn't really the best part.  The broth was so good I'd be happy with that alone.  Anyway, I ended up with 4 16oz jars leftover so I'll have lunches covered next week assuming I don't break them open while my Mom is here to show off.  "Look I actually cooked something and it was good!"  :-)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Rule for life #1: Want VS Have

You can like things without wanting them for yourself.

You ultimately want a simple life.  To be able to pack up and move.  To not need extra room in a living space for your stuff.  Or more stuff to dust.

So many times you've seen something, wanted it, got it, and then let it sit in a corner unused.  It's a waste of money, space, and ultimately that brief period of happiness from the purchase fades to guilt for not putting it to its proper use.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Euthanasia in shelters

I tend to root for the underdog.  In a shelter situation, that's usually a dog with medical or behavior problems.  Having been an employee and (currently) a volunteer in a "no-kill" shelter, I've fallen for many animals who never made it out.  Some succumbed to disease or illness, but at least an equal number were euthanized for behavior problems that could not (or would not) be solved.

This is an incredibly difficult thing to deal with.  I can't tell you the number of hours I've spent trying to rehabilitate and socialize animals with behavior issues only to see them either euthanized in the shelter or shortly after adoption.  The reasons given are liability and adoptability, but in many cases I have to say I believe the real issues is not having the resources to identify and deal with the problem early and on the organizational (rather than the individual) level.

Our shelter used to have a trainer that would come in an volunteer her time testing and giving tips on working with the animals that had issues.  But, communication and training programs are difficult to implement in the shelter environment with so many volunteers coming and going and some of them thinking they know better than the trainer.  So, I think she got tired of wasting her time and she no longer drops by.

But, when an animal has a medical issue, even in a shelter environment, it's usually treated.  If behavior issues can be fatal, why aren't they treated the same as a medical issue?  With professional advice and a structure in place for implementing the recommended training, I think we'd see a lot more animals surviving the shelter environment and getting adopted.

Of course, that touches on two main issues that are probably the reasons this isn't done.  1.  There are too many pets out there anyway and some might say that the loss of a dog with a behavior issue likely saves a dog without one.  That may be true.  And 2, behavior issues aren't as easily solved as many medical issues are.  It's not as easy as one pill twice a day or some salve to put on a wound.  Instead it requires time, training, and liability.  ...and the outcome you hope for is adaptability, but given their history they will never be as adoptable as most other dogs and will likely take up space on the adoption floor for awhile before the right adopter comes along.

That brings me to another issue -the selectivity of potential adopters by shelters.  They often won't adopt to you if you'll be gone more than 8 hours, you don't have a fenced-in yard, you've never owned that breed before, you have kids, you have a roommate, you or your child have a disability, etc.  Anything that sets off alarms to the particular counselor you are talking to is grounds to deny you the adoption even if the next counselor would have said yes.  Why are we being so picky (and in some cases discriminating based on race, age, sexual orientation, and/or disability) if so many pets are dying?  How can they not think that the adopter they turned down is just going to the pet store down the street to buy a puppy mill dog.  Is that really better? 

Maybe if we didn't make people go through an interrogation to adopt a shelter animal adoptions would go up and puppy mills would loose business and profitability?  Maybe if people felt they could answer the adoption counselor's questions truthfully they'd get better advice and more adoptions would be successful.

Then again, maybe I'm just naive.  Or maybe there's a middle ground.  And maybe other shelters are run better (I hope they are!).  But, all of this has sparked something in me.  I look forward to being a Vet Tech with my hands in the poop and my eyes throbbing from looking into a microscope too long for as long as possible, but when I'm too old and can't do it anymore I would really love to start a shelter.  I understand that I'd have to be the one to make the call on euthanizing a dog for aggression, but at least when I made that decision I'd understand and agree with it.  I'd have the time, ability, and resources to look for other options before that needle hit the vein and it was too late.

I hate being the victim of someone else's decision.  I hate nodding my head "yes" when they tell me they've done everything they could while knowing there were options that were not explored.  But I do because at that time it doesn't matter.  The decision is made.  My friend is dead.  But I do hold some hope that one day I can stop at least some of it. 

RIP Vixey.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Upcoming Android phones

I'm currently using an old HTC G1 (original Android phone).  I've been looking for a replacement for some time, but don't want to regret my next purchase halfway through my contract like I did last time.  So, I decided on the Samsung Galaxy S2 last spring.  Unfortunately now that it's finally out in the US (or will be in a week), I find that it's not top of the line anymore.  There are several other phones on the horizon that may be better so I'm hashing that out here.

For anyone else who may stumble across this list please not that only Android phones are being listed and only phones coming out on Sprint or T-Mobile since I don't want to have to deal with worrying out exceeding my data usage every month.

  • HTC Evo 3D:
    • Sprint
    • available now, $50
    • specs:
      • dual 1.2MHz, 1gb RAM  (upcoming phones have 1.5MHz processors)
      • 540x960 S-LCD display  (better resolution than the S2!)
      • 4GB internal storage plus microSD slot  (only 4GB of internal storage sucks!)
      • no NFC   (I'd like to have NFC)
      • FM radio
      • 5MP camera (2D), 2MP camera (3D), dual LED flash, 1.3MP FF camera  (2D camera is a little weak, but the 3D camera is kinda neat)
      • 6hrs talk time  (battery life seems to be an issue although buying a 2nd battery would fix that)
  • Samsung Galaxy S2:
    • Sprint and T-Mobile
    • release date:  9/16/11
    • specs:
      • dual 1.2MHz, 1gb RAM  (upcoming phones have 1.5MHz processors)
      • 480x800 super AMOLED plus display  (I'd like better resolution)
      • 32gb internal storage plus microSD slot
      • NFC
      • FM radio
      • 8MP camera, LED flash,2MP FF camera
      • 9hrs talk time/620hrs standby (3G)
  • Nexus Prime:
    • carriers?
    • specs:
      • dual 1.5MHz, 1gb RAM
      • 480x800 super AMOLED plus or 720x1280 super AMOLED plus display  (if the more recent rumors are true and it's only 480x800 I'll be disappointed)
      • internal storage? plus microSD slot
      • NFC
      • radio?
      • 5MP camera  (weak camera, most are 8MP now)
      •  battery life?
  • HTC Amaze 4G
    • T-Mobile
    • release date:  October?
    • specs:
      • dual 1.5MHz, 1gb RAM  (Faster processor than the S2!)
      • 540x960 display  (I like the resolution!  Better than the S2's!)
      • internal storage?,  SD slot?
      • NFC?
      • radio?
      • 8MP camera, dual LED flash, 2MP FF camera
      • battery life?
Early Termination fees:
  • Sprint:
    • 0-4 months into contract:  $200
    • $10 less per month after that
    • 6 months into contract:  $180
    • 9 months into contract:  $150
    • 1 year into contract:  $120
    • 1.5 years into contract:  $60
  • T-Mobile:
    • 180 or more days left:  $200
    • 91-180 days left:  $100
    • 31-91 days left:  $50

Tuesday, April 06, 2010


It's a Tuesday. I love Tuesdays. After a week that looks like this:
-Wednesday: surgery 9am to 5:30pm (no breaks)
-Thursday: work 8am-12n, leave for school at 2:30pm, get home at 5:30pm
-Friday: surgery 8:30am to 5:30pm (no breaks)
-Saturday: work 8am to 4pm
-Sunday: work 8am to 3pm
-Monday: leave for school at 1:30pm, go from school to work, get home at 8:30pm

...then there's Tuesday, the only thing that resembles a break this week. I don't have to leave for school until 2:30pm. ...I practically have all day. do whatever I want!

I walk into the kitchen and find no clean dishes. My choices for breakfast are limited. We have no clean spoons.

I go to the laundry room to find clothes to wear for the day. There are none. I ran out of clean jeans yesterday.

I hate Tuesdays.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

My transition to being a "Mindful Meat Eater"

My Dad grew up hunting with his father and passed on the ethics of hunting to me. Knowing many vegetarians and city-dwellers, I know that phrase "the ethics of hunting" may sound funny, but I think you might just be surprised at how hunters like my father feel about what they do.

Life, I was told, is precious and the animals that die so that we can have food deserve respect for the gift that their death brings to us. The kill must be clean. You don't go out and hunt if your skills are rusty. That's what the range is for, to target practice and make sure you can kill in one shot. In the field, you don't get trigger happy. If you aren't 100% sure you'll hit your mark, you don't take the shot. And if, after all that preparation and care, you hit the animal but don't kill it -it's your responsibility to find the injured animal and finish the job. You don't let the animal suffer by starving or bleeding out slowly. And whenever he took a life, my Dad told me late one night, he'd silently pause to thank the animal for it's sacrifice.

I don't hunt. Never have. I was decent with a .22 at 50-100 yards, but I couldn't stomach the idea of being responsible for an animals death. I still carry the respect for animals that my Dad taught me though, including the ones that I eat, but it's never been something that I think about on a daily basis. The problem is that the animals that I eat hardly seem like animals at all. I buy steaks, chicken breasts, pork chops -they all come in cleanly wrapped styrofoam trays, so that's all they are to me. It's easy not to think that they were once animals; that they represent a life that's come to an end.

The other problem is that, once we think about the fact that our pork chop was once a pig, we tend to picture Wilbur on Old McDonald's farm with a sunny stretch of grass, a mud pit, and chickens and cows, a red barn... he'd be sent to slaughter only after living out a decently life on the farm. But I've been learning that this is far from reality today.

The vast majority of our meat comes from large factory farms where animals are kept in pens that don't allow them the room to even turn around. They live short, uncomfortable or even painful lives because we consumers buy based only on price. How they keep those prices low is hidden from the customer -it's remote, abstract, and as long as we keep price as our number one priority in choosing which animal products to buy, things will continue the way they are. Animals will continue to live their entire lives in really inhumane conditions. Your money will go to those that can get their meat to the market at the lowest price even if they do so by packing their animals in just a little tighter. By slaughtering them just a little cheaper (perhaps at a plant that doesn't properly stun or kill the animal before it's "processed") other words, by ignoring the fact that they are dealing with animals who feel pain, have emotions, and deserve our respect for the vital role they play in our lives.

I'm sure I've lost some readers already. It's not an easy subject to think about and there are enough PETA wackos out there to make most people just turn off this kind of talk, chalking it up to being overblown, not as widespread as it sounds, or that somehow it doesn't apply to the meat THEY eat. I understand. I roll my eyes at those militant vegans too. But, I've also done the research and I've come to the conclusion that the way most animals are raised and slaughtered doesn't fit with the ethics my Dad taught me when I was little. And I'm determined to do something about it. What? I'm not 100% sure yet, but it won't include becoming a vegetarian. I hate vegetables and love meat! But there has to be a practical solution to eating meat without supporting factory farming.

My first effort will be simple -if I buy meat I will make sure it doesn't go to waste. 8.2 billion pounds of meat a year -that's 22.5 million pounds a day. The book "Compassionate Carnivore" breaks this down into animals so we can visualize this better. She estimates that this breaks down to 15,000 cattle, 36,000 hogs, and 2 million chickens that are killed every day and then just thrown away. I will do my best to reduce this number. That's the number one change that I vow to make.

My second change will be that for any meals cooked at home I'll buy all the meat and animal products that I possibly can from the most humane sources I can find. I'm lucky to live in an area with a "Whole Foods" where I can buy some meat products that are from better sources. Perhaps not perfect, but certainly better than the default choices and the more money that goes toward even only slightly better sources, it sends a message to the industry that shows a demand for more humane meat products. More demand, I hope, leads to better choices in the future.

So, those are my goals for now. And, yes, I still eat out regularly, so I'm still consuming factory-processed meat. I'm taking practical steps, I'm not up for a complete lifestyle change. Baby steps, right?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Removing HTC G1 USB cover

I've been finding the USB cover on my G1 phone annoying lately, so I just took a look at it to see how I could take it off. After some searching I saw some instructions on removing a screw or prying the cover to get it out. But, after reading that it was just a rubber ball on the end that was anchoring it to the phone, I decided to just carefully pull on it instead and guess what? -it popped out fairly easily without having to worry about marring the phone by prying or removing screws that may cause a voided warranty!

Friday, October 02, 2009

Be careful with your credit cards!

Be careful with your credit card payments! I got a letter in the mail from Discover the other day (it looked unassuming, like most of their advertisements) that said I "triggered the variable Default ANNUAL PERCENTAGE RATE" and my rate was being raised to "Prime + 21.49%"!

I called right away since their customer service is open 24x7 and found out that the cause of the change was the fact that I was 3 days late with 1 payment! The girl looked at my 7 year account history and saw that this was an isolated incident and very quickly reversed the interest rate increase as well as crediting back a $39 fee for me, but still -it's obvious they were hoping I'd never open that letter and they could start charging me 30% interest on any new purchases I make. Shady. Makes me that much more motivated to kick the credit card habit!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

How to deal with difficult people

I spent 11 hours volunteering yesterday. Each hour was grueling. Not because of the work or the length of time, but because of someone I have to work with. It's driving me crazy because I can't recall ever being in such conflict with someone that I couldn't work with them before, but it's truly gone that far at this point. I keep running the situation through my head. Is it my fault?

Yes, I can see various ways where the conflict we had yesterday, in particular, was my fault. I was brewing about several small personality um ...differences that we have all day before the blow-up. And yes, it's happened before that I was short with her. So, this is where the guilt lies.

But honestly, I think these are symptoms of lost respect and not the true cause of the conflict. There are several situations I've been in with her that have rendered me unable to gather up any respect for the woman in order to even want to work on the matter from my end. Does that sound harsh? Well, it is and I can't help it.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Health care problems and solutions

Problem #1: Employer-provided insurance puts all the choices in the hands of my company's executives and HR people and leaves me, the consumer, with limited options.

I don't understand my insurance policy at all. If I were out in the market I'd give my money to whatever insurance company would provide me with the best customer service at a reasonable price. I'd love the ability to choose a plan that had online tools to help me understand my coverage. But that choice isn't mine to make and there's no incentive for insurance providers to make my plan work better for ME because I'm not the one choosing it, my company is. So, whoever gives my employer the lowest cost? a kickback? free "executive coverage" if X number of employees sign up? Who knows how employers choose insurance, but I'm sure it has nothing to do with my experience as an insurance user. I mean, let's face it, I can pay $100 a month for insurance through my employer or 3-6 times that amount if I want to go get insurance on my own. Yes, technically that's a choice, but practically it is not.

Problem #2: Complex insurance coverage makes the consumer afraid to use it.
About a year ago I woke up in the middle of the night with pain in my lower right stomach. I tossed and turned and eventually got back to sleep. In the morning it was gone. The next night I woke up again, but this time the pain was worse. I had to get up, walk around, and eventually sat down at my computer trying to find out what it might be -appendix? stones? Again, by morning it was okay again. The next night it was so bad I was in tears. Tired and in pain, I did more research, but had no idea what was going on. The pain was intense. I considered going to the emergency room, but I didn't because I was afraid of how much it'd cost. In the morning I decided it wasn't going away on it's own so I made an appointment with a doctor. Turned out it was my stomach and antacids solved the problem, but it could have been much worse. If it HAD been my appendix it could have burst by the time I was willing to get it looked at. We put off routine care and checking small issues out early out of fear for the hassle of dealing with the insurance, for fear of the cost of emergency care. Perhaps our overall health care costs would go down if we were able to easily seek care, even if it was from a Nurse Practitioner or Physician's Assistant rather than an actual doctor. But, if we caught more issues and diseases earlier on we'd be WAY more healthy as a country.

Problem #3: Red tape makes the consumer resistant to making changes even if they are warranted.
I see a specialist and he stinks as a doctor. Whenever we discuss changing my medications, he'll list 2 or 3 that I could be put on and asks me to make the choice! If I ask a question about a fourth medication, he'll ask if I want to be put on that instead. It's like being my own doctor, not exactly what I'm looking for since I didn't go to medical school like he did! Besides that his front desk staff are nearly comatose -I waited for over a half hour in a non-busy office in the middle of a Tuesday for a prescription refill because the front desk lady forgot about me. She was too busy complaining to the nurses and plant watering lady about her job to shuffle my paperwork from point A to point B and back again (and this isn't an isolated incident!). Why don't I change doctors? Because I saw this guy on my previous insurance. To be able to see him under my new insurance I had to go back to see my Primary Car Physician (randomly selected out of a book) and pay a copay and sit on an uncomfortable table for 15 minutes in order to get a referral (to the doctor I had already been seeing for YEARS!). To switch to a new specialist, I assume I'd have to repeat that process, which is such a waste of time I keep putting it off even though I think it'd benefit my health in the long run to get a more competent doctor.

That's enough for now. More to come. I'm far from out of ideas on issues with our current health system! ;-)

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Link: Blog article on the danger of far-right politics

What? You thought this blog was dead? Well, half-dead. I post by posting posts from others on others' posts like this:

Despite my silliness, this article really is quite good and lays out the exact reasoning that lead me to leave the Republican party:

Perhaps one day I'll come back to write my own material!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Dental medicine sucks!

On June 16th I went to Wheatland Dental for a checkup. It had been two and a half or so years since I had been, so I wasn't surprised when I was told I needed another deep cleaning/scaling and that I had 4 cavities that needed to be filled. At that visit the hygienist said that one cavity was pretty deep -she showed it to me on the xray and she said there was a possibility that that tooth would need a root canal. After meeting the dentist who just briefly went over what the hygienist already told me, I moved on to scheduling to set up two more appointments for cleaning and cavity fills. After the appointments were set up, I was told that they'd call my insurance to check my coverage for me and give me a call wit the results. Soon after I arrived home, I got that call and was given the estimated cost of the cleaning and cavity fills. I was very happy that they were willing to do that for me because, not knowing the codes, it's hard for me to get precise information on coverage and costs.

So, at my second appointment I was expecting 3 cavity fills and root planing/scaling. After the dentist started on the first cavity I heard her say "Uh-oh, I accessed the pulp of the tooth. You're going to need a root canal on this one, so I'm going to go ahead and remove the nerves from this tooth. Then she grabbed a much bigger drill bit and got to work. At the end of the visit I was told that she only started the root canal and that I'd need to see a specialist to get it completed. I was urged to make the appointmen "soon" and told that there may be a little discomfort in the tooth, but as long as it wasn't a pulsing pain it should be able to be taken care of with some ibuprofen. After the novacaine wore off there was no pain at all. I was happy and wondered what all the fuss over root canals was about.

About a week later I had my second appointment for the other half of the root planing/scaling and one more cavity fill. The first thing the doctor asked me was whether I had scheduled the rest of the root canal work or not. I told her I had not and that I was waiting until the other side was done in case there was another one. Then I asked her how soon it should be done. -I was under the impression after the first visit that the issue in waiting would be the temporary filling material. So, I asked her this time -like, if my insurance is tapped out for this year, can I wait until January? She said something like "I wouldn't wait that long, you should get it done as soon as you can." ...being numb and unwilling to talk while drooling out the side of my mouth, I left it at that and went home.

On Friday night (June 26th, 10 days after the partial root canal) I had a little tenderness in the that tooth, but by morning it went away. The next day was similar, a little discomfort at night, so I figured by morning it'd be okay again. But, on Sunday morning I woke up early with pretty bad dull pain in that tooth. When I bit down, though, lightningbolts of pain shot through the tooth -it was overwhelming pain. Right up there with the pain I felt when I broke my arm. Aside from that it's the worst pain I've ever felt. But, being Sunday, I stuck it out. I ate nothing but pasta and swallowed most of it whole because chewing was slow, difficult, and one wrong move and there was the sharp shooting pain again. But, I kept my hopes up that it'd be over Monday morning as soon as the dentist office was open again.

Sunday night I took a sleeping pill to try to get some rest. I woke in the morning around 6am with pain and started the countdown to 8am when I might get some relief. While waiting I called Wheatland Dental and left a message to get my name in ASAP in case it'd get me in a little sooner. At 8:15am Wheatland called and told me that I was in pain because I hadn't gotten the root canal finished like I was told to and there was nothing they could do -I needed to call the Endodontist. After letting them know about how I felt about them drilling my tooth out and then shoving me out the door, I hung up to call my insurance company.

It turns out neither Endodontist they referred me to is covered, but I found one that was that could get me in today and hopefully by 11:30am I'll be out of pain. What makes me really angry about this is the lack of involvement in my own dental care. I don't understand why I couldn't be told what to expect before the tooth was ever touched. At that point it didn't hurt! At that point I probably could have waited 6 months, if necessary, so I had enough benefits to cover the expensive proceedure. But I wasn't asked -I was TOLD, and even then only after the pulp of the tooth had been accessed and nothing could else could be done!

Dentists -do you really wonder why you get a bad wrap? When this is the service we get? To be drilled out and pushed out the door to be someone else's problem with no idea what to expect, what timeframe the rest of the proceedure needed to be done in, and no idea that the consequence for not making the appointment in less than 2 weeks would be intense pain? This is not caring treatment -it's not even HUMANE if you ask me!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Tattoo ideas

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Erica, author?

Not quite.

...I never dreamed of being a writer, but in an attempt to get a bit more serious about my offering professional photography lessons, I've started writing a book(let) to give to my future students.

Basically, I've had the lesson plans written up for a year. I've had a few inquiries about the lessons, but I've either met up with them for a day of shooting for free rather than give formal lessons because I felt they knew enough to not make it worth their time/money, or they've not responded after I gave them my price (despite attempting several different prices), or I've had to say no because it's winter and I have no location where I can hold the lessons and do the practice shots that are a big part of the lessons.

But, spring's around the corner. I've brushed up my webpage, set firm pricing and made it public, and that leaves one thing holding me back from publicizing it more. -My presentation.

Originally, I made a Powerpoint slideshow to go with the lesson plan, but the more I thought about it the worse of an idea that seemed to be. My laptop's battery is dead, I don't have a projector, and if I'm giving lessons outside (which is the plan) the bright light won't make seeing my screen or a projection very easy.

So, putting it on paper seemed logical. There's a few upsides to doing it this way as well. I could charge extra if they want to take home a copy (although that seems a bit wrong), and it could be used for the online course I'm thinking about starting. If I decide to try online lessons, writing up this booklet would be a big step in getting ready for that. And the idea would be that the cost of the online lessons would be purchasing a copy of the "book" from cafepress or whoever I decide to get to self-publish it.

...anyway, it feels like I got something done today. It's been awhile. Being out of work is driving me crazy. Not having money is driving me crazy. It'd be nice to make a few bucks by doing some lessons. It's nice to have a project. And I've decided to try to keep my personal blog updated as well.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Escapism (from the cold!)

Every year around this time I look up the average daily temperatures online. Like, for today, the average high is 41*F and the low is 27*F. Which makes me hopeful that we'll get back up above the freezing point again soon (as I write this it's 5*F).

The temperatures fall-fall-fall through December and hit a low of an average high of 31*F on January 14, then they bounce back up and slowly make their way back up to an average high of 40*F on February 22. Can I wait that long? Why was I born at the absolute coldest time of the year? Is that some sort of cruel joke?

I guess this annual ritual is my way of trying to prepare to make it through one more winter. It's often also accompanied by pie-in-the-sky plans to move to Florida before next winter as well.

I'm just not a big fan of living in a place where being outside ranges from uncomfortable to deadly for 3 months out of the year. It's crazy. Crazier than my ritual, I assure you!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

The $300 mistake

In July I bought a digital picture frame for my Dad for his birthday. I had originally wanted to get him a 10 inch frame or so, but I ended up purchasing a $300 15-inch frame instead because it was capable of wifi and it'd pull photos off of Flickr, so anyone in the family would be able to drop photos onto it really easy.

It turned out the frame didn't work well. It'd keep showing the same photos over and over and we couldn't figure out why it'd suddenly drop a few and seemed to be unable to display them all of a sudden. It happened when pulling photos from Flickr, or off wifi from a local computer, as well as off of a memory card, or off the internal memory. It just seemed to be a problem with the frame, so I got a 10-inch Kodak frame to replace it and packed it up and took it home so I could return it.

But, I lost the receipt for it. Believe me, I tore the house apart looking for it -it was nowhere to be seen. I must have thrown it out? I figured I'd try to return it anyway, but it just sat there as months went by because I dreaded trying to do a return without a receipt. My next plan was to eBay it and that's been on my "to do" list since I quit work in September. An easy $250 at least I thought.

...well, tonight we left Apex out of the crate while we ran to the hardware store really quick and when we got back the picture frame box was on the floor ripped to shreads. I don't know what made him go after it -it was tucked back in a corner. The power suppy is in 3 pieces, but luckily the frame itself as well as the remote is okay. The box is absolutely trashed, though -no eBaying it as "New In Box" that's for sure!

Grrr. I have a feeling we'll try to replace the power supply and just keep the frame, I don't know. All I know is that dog is not on my good side at the moment!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Religion & Politics

'Tis the season...

Two things are occupying my mind as of late. First, with Obama being our new President-Elect, I'm hoping the right's fringe who chanted hateful things about him hating America and being a Muslim realize that they were mislead. I'm not deluded enough to think they'll ever LIKE the guy, but they'll have to see that his agenda doesn't include changing our religious beliefs or helping terrorists destroy the country. And my hope is that they'll take the next step as well and wonder how they were misled, who lied to them, and probe the possible motivation behind it as well.

We, as a society, seem to be going in a direction where we look to others to tell us what to do and how to think while we follow along blindly, taking them at their word. The mortgage crisis, for example, could have been avoided if people didn't take the bank's word for what they could afford. Our mortgage company told us we could afford a $300,000 house -well, we ran the numbers, used several online calculators and we targeted half that price for our house -what WE thought we could afford. Why didn't others do the same thing? We've forgotten the mantra "buyer beware".

So, in the end, I hope people stop falling for the politics of fear and begin taking responsibility for checking on sources for the information they take in as truth. Listening to both the left and right radio hosts (as well as O'Reilly or Olberman) makes me sick. They stretch the truth until it's unrecognizable. We need to move back towards the middle as a country I think.

It's also the "Holiday Season". As the right and left settle down after the political season, another group of people are sharpening their teeth. Yes, it's highly offensive now to say "Happy Holidays" or ghod forbid write Christmas "X-mas"! Bill O'Reilly popularized this newfound anger with his book "War On Christmas".

I don't see the need for this fight. I'm a non-theist who understands that the majority of my fellow citizens are Christians. I've also learned, through observation, that Christmas has two parts. There's the Jesus in the manger part and there's the Santa Claus in the chimney part. One excludes me, the other includes everyone.

So, if the trend is to turn this religious holiday into a secular one that can be enjoyed by all and then families can decide whether or not to include the Jesus part within their circle of friends and family, I'd think we could all be happy with that. But, if the "War On Christmas" people (because it's important to acknowledge that not all religious people are in that camp) ...if the "War on Christmas" people keep this up and make Christmas a solely Christian holiday, well, you can expect more anger and fighting.

...that's why I'm a "moderate" -it's the most logical, most peaceful way. And isn't that what we should all be striving for?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Reality hits with Apex

We adopted a 3 year old dog who was supposed to be housebroken, but we let Apex have the run of the house last night and we had a few problems.

At 2am he woke me up with his face in mine. I tried to get him to leave me alone, but he insisted on having my attention. I decided to get up and let him out in case he needed to go -I knew he didn't have the routine of bedtime and asking to go out down yet since this was his first night with us.

As he and our first dog, Forty-Two were outside I was walking around the (dark) house and I stepped in a puddle. I cleaned it up, let them in, and went to bed without correcting him (I doubt after-the-fact correction really works).

Again, at 2:30am I was woken up by Apex breathing in my face. Immediately I smelled poop and got up to scout it out. He made a nice pile near the front door on the pergo, so at least it was easy to clean up :-\.

At 4am I was awoken by the sound of something being chewed on downstairs and it didn't sound like a bone. All I could see was a black thing between his paws and I hoped it wasn't Ed's brand new shoes. I turned on the light and it was one of his older shoes and I had been lucky enough to catch him before much damage was done. I corrected him and put him in Forty-Two's crate for the rest of the night.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

"Buddy" is now "Apex"

So today we brought Forty-Two to the Naperville Humane Society to meet "Buddy", who we put on hold yesterday with the adoption pending on this meeting. They had us bring Forty-Two into a fenced-in pen and keep him on the leash while they brought out "Buddy". First, they had them meet through the fence. Their tails wagged and they sortof got bored, so they brought "Buddy" into the pen and we kept them apart at first, then slowly brought them together so they could meet on-leash. That went well, so we did a walk side-by-side around the pen. That went okay too although with each step of the meeting process they'd get bored and ignore each other. We were finally allowed to drop Forty-Two's leash and he ran off -away from "Buddy" (for a ball), but eventually they got back to sniffing and there was a little prodding to play. "Buddy" was ok with leaving Forty-Two's toys alone, etc. So it looked like Forty-Two was alpha and when they finally both got off-leash we were given the ok to adopt "Buddy". We brought Forty-Two back to the car, filled out the paperwork, handed over the "donation" and then started wondering how they'd get along on the ride home!

They were fine -Forty-Two in the back seat of the WRX and "Buddy" behind him in the "way back" area of my station wagon. When we got home the Humane Society told us to walk them on-leash around the house before taking the leashes off. We decided, instead, to walk them straight outside and let them off-leash to play where they wouldn't break things.

Well, outside the laid-back and aloof "Buddy" came to life! He and Forty-Two were running like crazy, switching who was in-front and giving the play signal (front paws down, rear up in the air). They were getting along great! And it looks like "Buddy" will help us keep Forty-Two exercised! This may just work out perfectly!

Inside, they were fine and Ed and I tested "Buddy" on his name -he wasn't really reacting to it, so we decided to change it. After some research we decided on "Apex".

We went out to eat and tried putting Apex into his crate, but it turned out he needed a bigger one. Luckily, Forty-Two was ok with Apex using his crate, so that worked out ok too.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

We're adopting a 2nd dog!

Today we adopted Apex from the Naperville Humane Society. At first I was iffy on adopting a second dog -I wondered if it'd help occupy Forty-Two, who can be somewhat whiny and needy when I can't give him the massive amount of exercise he needs or if we'd end up with 2 demanding dogs. But, we decided we'd take our chances and look for another dog.

After searching for an hour or so yesterday we realized we weren't getting anywhere and the Humane Societies were all closing soon, so we just picked one that had a few dogs we liked and ended up at the Naperville Humane Society.

Two weeks before Ed fell in love with a Sheltie in a pet store, then the week after we were at my Mom's as they were profiling dog breeds on TV and Ed decided he really liked Dashaunds and Westies. As we searched Petfinder he was gravitating towards Pit Bulls, which I didn't like at all! Ed was also set on getting a puppy -I wanted an adult. We compromised and were looking for one that was around 6mos old.

So, we get to the Humane Society and go back to look at the dogs and two of them stood out for us. One we had seen online, "Buddy" who was a 3 year old Husky mix and a 9mo old Doberman puppy. Dobermans were profiled on that TV show we were watching and I learned that they were great dogs. In the end, though, Ed liked "Buddy" and we took him first to get to know him. "Buddy was very laid back and kindof aloof, but I did all my usual temperment tests -playing with his paws, ears, mouth, etc then flipping him over on his back -he passed every one. He could care less and he was happy as could be to be petted. He was said to be housebroken, knew "sit", and walked well on a leash. When we were finished it was closing time, so we didn't get a chance to see the Doberman puppy. It didn't matter, though, Ed had made up his mind and we put "Buddy" on hold awaiting a meeting with Forty-Two tomorrow!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

What happened to "Conservative" values?

Republicans, "conservatives", from what I've been told, are supposed to work for a smaller roll for Federal government and less intrusion of government on people's lives. That's a concept I whole-heartedly agree with. And they generally keep to that stance when it comes to issues like gun control, the environment, and health care. But since the 90's they seem to have adopted an exception for religious-based "values" issues like gay marriage and abortion.

Why is it that the government should not intrude on our individual freedom to own a firearm, but that the government should decide who has the right to fall in love and sanction that love in all the legal and social benefits of a marriage?

And, as far as abortion -I struggle with my stance on it myself. But, what it comes down to is when life begins. Christianity says it's at conception. Science doesn't know. The law is confused on the issue as well. So, until the issue is decided it's up to the individual based on their beliefs and the situation involved. ...And that's something that's often forgotten -the situation involved. It's not always a 16 year old girl having the abortion. There are situations where it's complicated by incest or rape, when the life of the mother is in jeopardy, or where the quality of life of the child is in question as well. As an example, this story is about a woman who went from a joyous, excited pregnancy to a partial-birth abortion 3 days later. Even though her friends and family (and even her Priest) supported her it was described as the hardest thing she's ever done. ...for her and many others I am pro-choice because I'm against the idea of forcing my **OPINIONS** on others.

I guess my point here is that I believe that the government should not have a place in my bedroom nor should it have a say in what I choose to do to my own body. When the Republican party remembers it's "conservative" stance applies to situations that may upset their Evangelical base like gay marriage and abortion I'll be back.

Part II

Another Republican trait (at least as I saw it growing up) is to protect the idea of capitalism, free markets, and similarly the rights of citizens as outlined in the Constitution. So, why is it that our freedoms have been so sharply curtailed in the last 7 years? After 9-11 Bush and the Republican party have fought for the right to contain US citizens without charges or access to lawyers as well as wiretap and search the private records of citizens without warrants. And then when the Democrats want to introduce national health care plans they call them Socialists. When deciding who to vote for I ask myself: Which is worse? It's not a difficult choice.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Ginger Pear Crisp

Being off work with extra time on my hands and having overly ripe pears in the fridge, I decided to try to make cobbler out of them. All the recipes I could find online included lemon juice, which I didn't have. Or used more pears than I had (I had 3), so I came up with something on my own. It was good, but I didn't write down what I did. Here's the idea, though, so that maybe I can reproduce it and write down exact amounts next time...

  • Cut 3 pears into slices somewhere between an 1/8th and a 1/4 of an inch thick.
  • Dice up about a tablespoon (undiced) of crystallized ginger (maybe a bit less).
  • Stir it up.
  • Add a sprinkle of vanilla, powdered ginger, cinnamon, and sugar.
  • Stir it up again.
  • 3/4's of a stick of butter.
  • About 1/3 of the ingredients in oatmeal cookies, but substitute ginger for the nutmeg and leave out the eggs.
  • Beat the mixture in a mixer -it should be crumbly. If it's too dry, add more butter. If it's not dry enough, add more oats.
Put the pears in an approximately 8x4 baking dish, top with topping (duh) and bake at 350 until the topping turns brown.

It turned out watery and not sweet enough. I sprinkled brown sugar on the top, which helped with the sweetness, and left it in the oven at 200*F for 20 minutes or so, then turned the oven off and left it in there while we went out to a fast food place to eat. When we returned it was less soupy and quite tasty!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Election Poll Results

I'm keeping track of the polling data as displayed on here:

To easily view side-by-side the changes from 2004 to now and periodically from now until the election.

Why? I don't know. OCD? ...just thought someone else out there might be interested.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

unsalted peanuts

The answer to the question "Can you just rinse salted peanuts and use them as unsalted peanuts in a recipe" is yes.

Nice quote on perspective:

Charlotte Perkins Gilman: "It is told that Buddha, going out to look on life, was greatly daunted by death. "They all eat one another!" he cried, and called it evil. This process I examined, changed the verb, said, "They all feed one another," and called it good."