Saturday, January 31, 2009

...Then I shoulda put a gag on it.

I just feel like quickly relating the story told to me by my boss, because the song is currently on the radio here at work:

She went out to dinner last night, and afterwards she went to the register to pay. The couple in front of her was recently engaged, with the young woman gushing about her ring. She then proceeded to start waving her bejeweled hand in the Beyonce fashion. That was bad.

Worse was when her fiance joined her, and they both were waving and singing the song.

I'm sorry, but that image makes me feel ill. Blargh.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Just poking my head in...

Figured I'd say a quick hello, as I've not been around for a little while. That grad school stuff has been catching up to me, and a slew of mandatory-social events (I thought those were supposed to end after college?) have hit all at once.

I guess there is one story I'd like to relate, that's been pestering me for a few days now.

I make no secret of the fact that I work for an abortion provider-- I am proud of all the work I do, which includes basic medical services as well as abortion services. I help treat women from all economic backgrounds, races, ages, even genders. That's right, we had a man come in a few days ago for his annual Pap smear. But that's not my story.

A few nights ago, I was at a meeting for my all-women athletic team. One of the girls was recently hired as a Pilates instructor, and invited us all to her first few classes, which were being offered free. I told her I couldn't make it on Thursday, as I leave work late that day. Mind you, it is no secret where I work. She said that there was also a 1pm class on Saturday I could attend.

"Oh, I can't make it, I have abortions all morning."

I said this casually, not going for the twisted-humor laugh I occasionally pull out. And immediately some of the girls started looking at each other, and one of the leaders said, "Yeah, you could have just said you have to work. You didn't have to put it like that, it makes me uncomfortable."

That's right, I could have just said I had to work-- but that's not what came to mind. The simple fact is that I am busy well into the early afternoon every Saturday with abortions. That is not a dirty word. That is a basic outpatient procedure which is, in all honesty, safer than carrying a pregnancy to full term. And in a group of liberated, empowered women, I thought I'd be safe saying that. The woman who voiced her objection is even a lesbian-- maybe she's uncomfortable because she doesn't think she'll ever have to worry about it.

But the fact is, according to the Guttmacher Institute's research at least 50% of American women (even lesbians!) "will experience an unintended pregnancy by age 45, and, at current rates, about one-third will have had an abortion."

That's right. Every third woman you see on the street, statistically, has had or will have an abortion. And the only thing that makes it a shame is your perception of it.

Women who have abortions do so for a number of reasons, and if any one of them is valid, they all are. I counsel with women every day from every walk of life who need our services aborting a pregnancy that they cannot envision keeping. And they are clearly not alone in numbers.

But they are alone because of the stigma of abortion.

I know, definitely, that at least one woman on my team has had an abortion-- a close friend of the "uncomfortable" woman. She knows it too. And statistics say that even if she doesn't feel concerned (though we do have lesbians come in for abortions, either through rape, one-time "mistakes", or even wanted pregnancies that they find they cannot complete), one of the women sitting on either side of her has or will use abortion services.

And I couldn't help but look around the group of women and wonder which among them sat there in silence while the others spoke about their "discomfort" with my simply mentioning my work. Just imagine being them, in this group of strong women where we're encouraged to be ourselves and be tough and most of all to be connected with one another.

How isolating must that feel?

That's why I got into this job. Because I do not want women to feel alone, no matter their backgrounds, no matter their reasons. Finding out you're pregnant changes your life, and everyone deserves support, no matter what choice you make.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Elvis lives, the moon landing was faked, and what Holocaust?

Oh! And of course, the ever-famous Scarlett Johansson is a clone!

People believe some wacky things. There are some theories that have a strong desire behind them as well as the possibility of falsehood (9-11 was faked by the government, for example). In those scenarios it's not what happened that is denied, but how perception of it is cared for. Which is to say, the buildings came down but the purpose behind it is darker than we've been "led to believe" by our government. In the Scar-Jo clone scandal, there is a claim made that we don't have the science to back up or the DNA from Scar-Jo One. Mostly it comes off as a crazy way someone spent their weekend. Elvis lives -- well, with so many impersonators I think we all know where this gets started. The moon landing was faked -- again, it was such a fantastic event, it's almost easier to believe it didn't really happen and you know, we weren't all there.

Which brings me to Holocaust deniers and the most useful source of information on the Internet: Wikipedia. How is this even a question? That something that happened a generation ago can already be questioned by survivors as ever having happened to the extent that we currently are taught it did. I'll be the first to admit that a lot is left out of American history, mostly because we're concerned with American history the most, but our grandparents basically all fought in WWII. It's not like there's a real chance for us to say, "Grams and gramps and all their friends mass-hallucinated."

Instead of addressing these beliefs bit by bit, I have no intention of starting an argument against someone who can be convinced this to begin with, I will simply say that I have actually visited Auschwitz-Birkenau. It is... one of the most sobering and distressing experiences I've ever had. To visit a place like that. When you hear "X million dead", you -- or at least I-- cannot really comprehend what that means until they show you the hair, shoes, glasses, pots and pans, etc. left from the last group of prisoners to go through Auschwitz. At which point it becomes more and less comprehensible. But most assuredly sticks with you for the rest of your life.

I wouldn't bring this up at all, but the Pope rehabilitated (or un-excommunicated, as I prefer) some folks recently who are HDs. Of all the conspiracy theories out there, they are the least rational. Now, the Pope is not okay with all this HD-talk, but he's wanted to bring them back in to the fold for a while. The only way I can find this acceptable is through a massively anti-religious statement, which is to say, the Church cannot afford to excommunicate people just because they are easily led to believe ridiculous things. While I could understand outcry from other Catholics, after all this man was consecrated without Papal consent, I don't understand why other religious groups think they should get a say in how the Catholic church operates. The Pope isn't supporting this moronic belief, he's just saying this guy shouldn't be ex-communicated for something completely non-related.

Of course, on the other hand this man says there is no evidence that Nazis used gas chambers, when both the creation of the chambers and their use was painstakingly chronicled at Auschwitz, so I'm not exactly inclined to think kindly towards him. But it does give me an opening to bring up that Auschwitz is in dire need of funding. The museum is running out of money and everything is crumbling, given it wasn't exactly carefully erected to begin with. They need to maintain the place as constant evidence against morons who decide the Holocaust never happened or gas chambers weren't used. They were developed at Auschwitz. If it crumbles, they will be gone forever. And that is a horrifying idea -- it should never be easier for someone to deny this happened. And we should keep these places to remind us of what once happened.

-- Lu

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Obama-Watch 2009, Day Three

Well, it's day three (full day two) of Obama's Presidency. He was re-sworn in after the oath got bungled. Today, the new Press Secretary for the White House got to take his first press conference with Obama as president. I watched, he got a bit beaten up over this issue. He said again and again that they were just being overly cautious in doing this. And again. And again. But this one reporter kept harping on it -- probably because they aren't used to having more than one question per session and he didn't really know what to do. I thought overall New Guy handled it well. I mean, he didn't just lose his cool and say, "We did it to keep jerks like you from harping on it for the next four years", so he's doing good in my book.

But I'm really here to talk about the Executive Orders from yesterday. If you listened to the speech he gave before Joe Biden swore in a bunch of the senior staff and cabinet, you already know about both of them. And frankly, it was an amazing speech that puts both orders in plain terms. In the plainest terms, one of them makes it way harder to cross interests between lobbying and governing, the other makes it far easier to get information under the freedom of information act.

But it is much, much better to hear all of this in our esteemed leader's own words:

Now, the new rules on lobbying alone, no matter how tough, are not enough to fix a broken system in Washington. That's why I'm also setting new rules that govern not just lobbyists, but all those who have been selected to serve in my administration.
If you are enlisting in government service, you will have to commit in writing to rules limiting your role for two years in matters involving people you used to work with, and barring you from any attempt to influence your former government colleagues for two years after you leave. And you will receive an ethics briefing on what is required of you to make sure that our government is serving the people's interests, and nobody else's -- a briefing, I'm proud to say, I was the first member of this administration to receive last week.
But the mere fact that you have the legal power to keep something secret does not mean you should always use it. The Freedom of Information Act is perhaps the most powerful instrument we have for making our government honest and transparent, and of holding it accountable. And I expect members of my administration not simply to live up to the letter but also the spirit of this law.

I will also hold myself as President to a new standard of openness. Going forward, anytime the American people want to know something that I or a former President wants to withhold, we will have to consult with the Attorney General and the White House Counsel, whose business it is to ensure compliance with the rule of law. Information will not be withheld just because I say so. It will be withheld because a separate authority believes my request is well grounded in the Constitution.

Let me say it as simply as I can: Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency.

I'd like to repeat that last bit:
Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency.

And that, friends, is how you change America. He didn't just talk the talk, now he's walking the walk.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

This Week In Congress

I figured I'd go ahead and post the e-mail itself, actually, so people could see what we're reading/discussing. The links should work.

More than 500 bills have been introduced in the House and more than 200 in the Senate in the 111th Congress. What is on the minds of Members of Congress that they feel need to be addressed? Here are a few examples:

H.R. 15 creates a nationalized system of free health care.

H.R. 414, the Camera Phone Predator Alert Act, requires cameras in cell phones to make an audible sound to alert others (such as in locker rooms) when a picture is taken.

H.R. 346 repeals the automatic payraises Congress receives.

H.R. 390 addresses "college football playoff games" while H.R. 187 says let Cubans play American baseball.

H.R. 227 states that human life begins at fertilization.

H.R. 254 moves voting to the weekend.

H.R. 113 requires anything funded by an earmark to be audited. Perhaps things like H.R. 202, which creates a "Museum of Ideas."

H.R. 116 ends political "robocalls" if you are on the "Do Not Call" Registry, while Senate bill S. 30 wants there to be caller ID honesty.

H.R. 126 would limit citizenship at birth only to those who have at least one parent who is a citizen or legal resident. H.R. 160 would limit Social Security benefits to only legal citizens or residents.

H.R. 155 would ban taxes on unemployment benefits for two years, while H.R. 162 bans taxes on Social Security benefits.

H.R. 87 says "Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is," and invites those who like to pay taxes to voluntarily pay extra taxes. Or how about just a "Fair Tax" as called for in H.R. 25.

H.R. 70 would make it a hate crime to display a noose with the intent to intimidate. And H.R. 40 explores paying reparations to African-Americans.

S. 213 would create an Airline Passenger Bill of Rights.

And Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) is back in the swing of things. He's introduced S.151, a bill to protect Indian arts and crafts.

Of course, Lu, I do feel it necessary to point out that Halloween is safe-- nooses are not to be displayed with intent to intimidate. I don't think someone would file a hate crime complaint against a haunted house.

Though I'd love to file one against the Hell Houses... I swear, that is some hate going on there.

Newsletter day!

Today my completely awesome cousin forwarded an e-newsletter to me from The letter highlights stuff going on in Congress, giving examples of bills that were introduced and explains them in easy plain English. It also links to the full text so that you can go read it.

Eli: Oh, awesome on the second one!
Prove that my work sucks, bitch, or pay me more!
Woo, repealed Congressional auto-raises!
And FUCK life at fertilization. What are they going to do with spontaneous abortions? And yay voting on the weekends!
Lu: I mean a lot of them are stupid. But I like that you can click and go see the bill and sponsors and stuff
Eli: I'm on the fence about the citizenship thing, and uncertain what "caller ID honesty" means.
Like, it is necessary that some IDs come up blocked.
Lu: Right
I'm realllllly pro HR 414 though
Eli: Yay noose=intimidation, boo reparations.
Lu: I do not think you should be able to take stealth pictures
Eli: YES.
Lu: Um... I'm less noose=intimidation=HATECRIME
I was pro-it when I read it
Eli: Depends on the situation, I think. Because the Jena situation was clearly a hate thing.
Lu: but now I'm thinking. Like, yeah a lot of the time a noose is hate crimey.
But sometimes it's just Halloweeny
Eli: Ooh, yeah, that's a problem.
Lu: and I don't think we should legislate away the Halloweeny stuff just to take care of the Hate Crimes
Eli: And as for the camera phone thing, a lot of the time you just don't want to hear a damned clicking every time you're myspacing it up.
Lu: Also, now that I am getting this weekly, do you want to make discussing it a weekly part of the blog?

Eli: Yes.

So there you have it. We'll be getting this newsletter once a week and be talking about it. We weren't really intending to post this, so it's not exactly our collected thoughts. Mostly just gut reactions like "Oh, I like this!" followed by a lot of "Oh, actually, when I think about it, do I really want that legislated?" In the future, we hope to, you know, have gotten past that when we talk about it. Or maybe not. We'll also post links to the actual bills when we discuss them I hope.

Anything to add Eli?


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Mathetmatics, programming, and boozy brownies

In which I discuss everything a lady nerd needs to be happy: the Internet, mathematics, programming, learning, booze, chocolate, and baking. Actually, for the majority of people, I'd be willing to shorten that list to the Internet, booze, and chocolate, but for the purposes of this post, keep the longer version in mind.

A friend of mine (not Eli) has challenged me to Project Euler. Yeah, I didn't know what that meant either. So Project Euler is a bunch of math problems that you eventually need programming skills to solve, basically, and until then need some pretty mad spreadsheet skills. Well, there was one that was totally pen and paper, but other than that, mad skills. My friend and I are doing it to learn nifty new math and promgramming. According to the website:

Project Euler is a series of challenging mathematical/computer programming
problems that will require more than just mathematical insights to solve.
Although mathematics will help you arrive at elegant and efficient methods, the
use of a computer and programming skills will be required to solve most
problems.The motivation for starting Project Euler, and its continuation, is to
provide a platform for the inquiring mind to delve into unfamiliar areas and
learn new concepts in a fun and recreational context.

We're challenging ourselves to see who can do more faster. He started out ahead of me by doing a few while everyone else was playing Apples to Apples. Then I got in gear and started to kick is ass before getting hung up on an Excel function I couldn't figure out. I kicked it today and did two while at lunch.

It's fun, but also more than fun.

If that's not your cup of tea, here's a recipe for boozy brownies for you:

Preheat your oven to 325*F.

Combine 1 1/4 stick butter, 1 1/4 cups sugar, 3/4 cup cocoa, and 1/4 tsp salt
in a pan over medium-low heat. Stir until butter is melted and sugar
seemed to have melted in, is less grainy.

In a separate bowl, add 1/2 tsp pure vanilla, 3 tbsp fancy brandy (it's
half brandy, half congac), two eggs and stir until combined. Eggs
should be scrambled nicely.

Add 1/2 cup flour to chocolate mix. Fold in.

Add egg mixture. Stir until completely mixed in together.

Add nuts or anything you want.

Put in greased baking dish and cook 20 - 25 minutes until fork inserted
comes out clean. I use a flat oval baking dish of sorts my mom gave
me. The original recipe calls for an 8x8 pan. These brownies are
super dense and super fudgy, so I'd say the more spread out the better.
Let them cool a bit before eating and make SURE you have milk on hand.
They are pretty intense.

And there you have it -- math and chocolate. Two of my favorite things. Now if I could only figure out the biggest palindrome made from 2 three digit numbers....

(Seriously, this is addictive, I just stayed 20 minutes late at work thinking about it.)


Images for Today

I don't have much to say today. I woke up in time to listen to our new President give his first speech in that role, followed by a female Shatner reading poetry and a very old man praying in an AWESOME Seussian style.

So in honor of those things, I present you with this image, courtesy of the BBC:


The second image I stumbled across while catching up with my daily webcomics. I skimmed past it, paused, and returned, wondering if it was a real ad, or a snarky ad for something else entirely. It appears to be legit, but it strikes me as... well, judge for yourself:

And that is all.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Rules, again

For some reason people think my rules make for excellent conversation. Especially since I have some that are more guidelines for myself, than actual rules.

At my local dive tonight, we determined that "rules" was perhaps a bit misleading. More people can relate to the idea of "dealbreakers". For example, if you're talking to a fellow, and things are going well, and then he slips into the conversation, "Oh, yeah, I'm..." or "I have..." And dealbreakers often have more exceptions.

I know from personal experience that dealbreakers for me include The Crazy and Mommy Issues. Of course, the latter I have to suss out for myself-- no guy just out and out announces that shit. Both of those also fall into the category of "It's not me, it's you." Dealbreakers that have to do with me are more situational: I won't have drunk sex, I won't have one-night stands. (Both of those, I guess it should be full disclosure, are on an "anymore" basis.) Dealbreakers that are more me, but because of the other person, include "No double-dipping/sloppy seconds", and "No teenagers". Being younger than me is often a dealbreaker, but it's not inviolable-- I just can't do the teenager thing. There are also dealbreakers of type: I would prefer an athletic fellow, so the scrawny boys are out.

So maybe that opens things up-- people have dealbreakers, right? No kids, no drugs, no sluts (that's a genderless term for me), no one currently in a relationship. There are different levels, different flexibilities, but I know I'm not alone in this.

Quick recap. There are, I believe, four types of dealbreakers:

1: "It's not me, it's you", or when the problems are with the partner, and personality-based
a. The Crazy
b. Mommy Issues

2: "It's not you, it's me" part 1, or when it's my issue/situational
a. Drunk sex
b. One-night stands

3. "It's not you, it's me" part 2, which has to do with a personal choice regarding a non-personality issue of the other person
a. Age (too old or young)
b. Sloppy seconds (thou shalt not mack on thy friend's ex)

4: "I'm just not interested", or when that person is just not your type
a. Physical non-attraction
b. Mental non-attraction/connection

In the two middle situations, it's more of a "if circumstances were different, things would be different--maybe another time". They are the two most fluid and breakable types. The first and last, however, tend to be the hopeless situations.

And this revisitation of the issue is what probably pushes my over-analytical mindset into the first category. But dammit, I like quantifying things. You wouldn't think I was a lit major.

body mod: mUndane

Quick note: If sushi was called raw sea kittens, it would be all the more delicious to me. Don't get me wrong, I adore cats. I've been told "crazy cat lady" is in my future. I don't even watch movies with minor cat abuse. Kurt Vonnegut's "Cat's Cradle" nearly broke my heart with the "Meow" incident-- if the narrator had perpetrated it, I would never have forgiven him.

Nonetheless, cats are not fish. And I love ridiculous words and phrases, such as "sea kittens". That would make sushi just a bit sexier for me. In fact, I might start saying I'm going out for sea kittens. It's the same as calling my gyno "the pirate doctor" and cracking jokes about my job as an abortionist's assistant. That's just my humor.

What I came here to say, however, has absolutely nothing to do with dietary or bloviatory habits. It has to do with self-mutilation, of the mildest sorts: eyebrows.

Honestly, I started really putting some thought into this as I stared into the mirror, tweezers in hand, wondering if I should just go in for a waxing. I've never had my brows waxed; in fact, I was late to the plucking game and only started after a friend sat me down about four years ago and dove in. Not to say I was bushy-- I thought my natural eyebrows were rather nice. "It'll change the shape of your face," she said, and I let her reign.

And it did. It at least changed the way I looked at my face, and how it was structured. It became second nature, and I even started to get a thrill out of it. I felt feminine, delicate, and as though I was... okay, maybe I didn't put that much thought into it. The funny thing was that I kept doing it, even after I entered into my "know how I really look" phase. The entirety of my college career I didn't dye or style my hair, things that I had done frequently in high school. I'd cut my hair, but never really shape it beyond a layer or two. If I went for a bob, it was a straight bob, if I grew it out, I cut it flat all the way around. And I've never been one to wear make-up.

I wanted look unashamedly like me, at a time and in a place where everyone was trying so damned hard to look like anyone else. I was able to look into a mirror and say, "Yes, I know that girl." And then pick up the tweezers for a stray.

Maybe it's not funny to anyone else that I never even thought about it, but now I'm looking back at pictures of myself from college going, "Did I ever really know that girl?" My hair's a more confident shade now, and I've got some kicking fringe and contacts, and I even wear some eye make-up from time to time now that I'm not hiding behind my glasses.

Because that's the thing, I guess. I've always found that the best place to hide was in plain sight. If I don't keep secrets, no one can blackmail me. If I tell you upfront what I'm about, then you can't have any revelations about me. If I went out looking brazenly like myself, I could at least pretend that no one saw me.

So now I'm trying something new. I promised 23 would be a monumental year, and it's doing just that in ways I wasn't anticipating. So as far as body modification goes, I'll be getting another tattoo or two, and maybe another couple of piercings. I'm going to shave my pits and legs, I might even get a manicure. But my eyebrows? I'm letting those babies go au naturale, just to remember what I look like.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

High Fructose Corn Syrup

It's happened to all of us, I think. You see someone about to eat something or do something and you go, "Really?" They of course respond, "why not?" You start to talk but then realize that while you know it's wrong, you don't have exact studies and science to back you up. Further, they use their more easily accessible knowledge and possibly better debating skills to trounce you. You end up feeling like an idiot, but with the burning feeling that you really were right. You just didn't know how to express yourself.

I'm not willing to get into a fight without having exact examples, usually. So when someone says something I'm fairly certain is false about a sensitive topic (my boyfriend's ex-roommate does this all the time), I bite my tongue until I can come back with something solid. The result, of course, is that it looks like the other side "wins". ("I thought you gave in on that point," my boyfriend says to me later. "No, she's a moron, but I'm not going to argue with her unless I have the data to back up my point. Ah, here it is now. See?" I reply.)

So I can sympathize with the people in those High Fructose Corn Syrup commercials who end up in the same, infuriating, frustrating position. Where they try to warn someone about HFCS and that other person walks all over them with iffy information, portraying it as perfect and true. As Michael Pollan points out in his book, In Defense of Food, we really don't know that much about nutrition. Further, many of our discoveries now make the discoveries from a few years ago totally useless in their findings. So saying HFCS is nutrionally the same as sugar isn't saying much. Further, enjoying HFCS in moderation sounds good, but unless you're a complete perimeter shopper*, you're enjoying it in your diet. Probably in places you weren't even aware of.

Honestly, if the food is prepped ahead of time and isn't raw, you should probably assume it has some in it. Bread? Usually. Soda? Almost always. Frozen meals? Of course! Even a lot of "health" food has it (though a lot doesn't because of its bad rep). Check the label on everything you eat today. You might be surprised at how much corn is there.

But beyond MP, my literary, foodie crush, there are tons of studies that certainly would give that woman at the park or that man on a picnic a bit of a punch. Just try this replacement commercial. What he doesn't mention is that table sugar is far less processed than HFCS. All signs point to the less processed something is, the more easily we can digest it, the better it is for us. Of course, that wouldn't have sounded nearly as good as spouting off all those studies.

But aside from just spreading misinformation, I don't like the debating style used because I feel so much sympathy for the person getting steamrolled. I mean, they aren't even a strawman. You have to get set up before you get knocked down in that case. They just stutter a moment. Like those "I'm a Mac" commercials, I feel like this one misses its mark: I feel way more sympathy for the woman and man who get steamrolled than I do empowered by the people doing it to them. Their debating methods just reflect the overall iffiness of the industry they represent.

At this point, it just so happens that I made a delicious soup last night. It reminded me very strongly of the Chunky Beef Vegetable soup I had all the time in my youth. It always grossed me out a bit coming from the can, but it tasted good. Some Google-fu gave me the ingredients in the Pot Roast soup and would you believe it: HFCS! So in exchange for this rant about debating styles and HFCS, I give you delicious and easy beef vegetable soup:

Mushrooms (sliced)
Carrots (peeled and cut)
Small potatoes (cut in half if they are biggish)
Chuck roast (cut into squares)
Onions (sliced)
2 cloves garlic (chopped)
2 cups red wine
4 cups chicken broth
Olive oil.

Put a bit of olive oil in a pot and heat.
Brown the meat squares in pot. Remove and set aside.
Add more olive oil.
Cook onions in pot until brownish and soft.
Add garlic and mushrooms, cook until soft.
Add wine, broth, meat, potatoes, and carrots.
Simmer three hours or until carrots and potatoes are cooked. Or longer, whatever. Take your time. Don't rush.
Add more water if too much liquid escapes or cover pot to begin with.
Season with salt as necessary.

Eat. Is delicious.

I realize it's not the most exacting of recipes, but soup is very forgiving. Add some other stuff, don't put all of this in, it doesn't really matter that much. I suggest one bottle of wine: two cups in the soup and the rest in you.

-- Lu

*perimeter shopper: you shop only around the grocery store perimeter -- nothing from the middle, where the processed foods usually are.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Fuck Sea Kittens.

Wow, now that I've read about PETA's new campagin to re-name fish as "sea kittens", I kind of want to take back all my self important rambling about organic cosmetics long enough to say this: fuck you, PETA.

Fish are delicious and healthy. Yes, they are hunted for food and sport. Yes, they are over hunted and it is a problem. Yes, they are intelligent and feel pain. But seriously? Sea kittens? We're aware of the problem enough without attaching silly, gimmicky names to it. You aren't going to reach a new audience really and those who already care will be at home rolling their eyes. Like I am.

And I'm still going to eat sushi, even if I have to call some of it raw sea kitten instead of raw fish.

-- Lu

Organic Cosmetics

I admit it. I eat and drink organic. Not always, not as a rule, but most of the time. I don't do it as a method of moral superiority, sometimes I'm actually a bit embarassed about it. I want to say to co-workers who roll their eyes at my juice boxes that splash the word ORGANIC about like it is more important than the beverage, "I'm sorry!" But sometimes, organic is all you've got. For instance, when I say "juice box", it should be clear that I'm talking about single serving chocolate milk terapaks with collapsable straws. I haven't found them in "normal". I'm not ribbed even a little bit about my juice box milk though, oh no, it's that my juice box chocolate milk is organic that seems to invite ridicule.

And fair enough, drinking anything out of a juice box at my age, no matter how convenient, deserves at least a smile.

But I've read The Omnivore's Dilemma and In Defense of Food, I love food with all my heart, and I strive to eat the food that tastes best, is good for the environment, and to be honest means the shortest walk for me. So I buy the majority of my food at the farmer's market. I can sample before I buy and it's across the street. Great all around.

Despite all that, I have a lot of trouble getting behind some of the weirder organic trends. I'm okay, for example, with my bamboo tights. The bamboo isn't organic, but is sustainably grown, super comfy, and cheap. I'm a bit weird about paying approximately a bajillion to have my clothing flown in from who-knows-where with the super exciting label "organic". I mean, if you're that down with the environment, just buy used.

So I was more than a bit sceptical about organic cosmetics. On the one hand, I'm certainly in the crowd that hears "organic" and thinks "oh, healthier, less processed, I bet it's better for my face" regardless of how true that is. On the other hand, I kind of roll my eyes and wonder if we really need organic makeup. What exactly goes into makeup that makes Brand A organic while Brand B isn't -- do I really want to know the animal and plant things they're using or would I rather leave the makeup a mystery?

I've already admitted that I'm a bit embarrassed about using "weird" organic things. Mostly because a lot of them are less green in some ways than their (un?)traditional counterparts. Makeup falls into that category -- strange enough that I don't really want to admit I'm using the organic version. It costs more, it probably doesn't actually help the environment that much, and ... well, you can see how much space I've already taken up to try and justify the following fact: Of all the makeup I've used, ever, the organic stuff I've bought lately is absolutely the best and makes me look fabulous.

I got some organic powder (Physician's Formula) for a recent big date. It was a bit of a lark -- I almost never wear makeup, it would be funny to tease him by saying it was organic. It was amazing. My face has rarely, if ever, looked that good. It was also ridiculously easy to use. But it was one product, so I kind of wrote it off. Then I noticed that Softlips has gone organic. Even the tube is made from 50% post industrial recycled plastic. Softlips has long been my go-to source for, well, soft lips. That stuff is amazing. And organic? Damn.

I guess in a way, I was surprised that products I viewed (or would have viewed) as having gimicky price-rasiers (the USDA organic seal) were also really high quality. There is not reason they shouldn't be, but I'd been seeing organic as a gimmick for so long (see: bananas) that in a way, I forgot it wasn't all infomercial nonsense.

-- Lu

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Oh, right, hello.

I don't know how Lu managed to get three posts up in a single day. Honestly, dear, you don't need to worry about us going gently just yet. You know I'm a terrible procrastinator, but I do eventually get things done.

Now I feel the pressure to decide what current situation best introduces me to the general public, what pressing issues keep me awake at night, what I feel most like sharing or, since this is a blog, over-sharing.

What is foremost in my mind at this minute is academia-- I am currently making my applications to PhD programs in the UK, and becoming more and more excited about it. However, I really think that is a niche issue.

Perhaps I should write what suggests itself in response to Lu's "True Wuv" post.

Dilemma: I want to date, but have absolutely no idea how to go about it.

Lu has it easy, with a boyfriend she practically lives with, and a wonderful how-we-met story, complete with cookies and sundry baked goods. She also lives in a large city, which means a wider gene pool.

I'm living in a moderately-sized town (roughly 100,000 people) in the back hills of the northern South. As a college graduate, I can no longer rely on school to introduce me to similar fellows with coinciding interests. Thus, I am left to the bar scene, and praying that any new female friends have male friends they don't share a sexual history with.

I have been told by friends that my problem can be found in the rules I have, but honestly, I don't find them too cumbersome:

1. Don't fuck the crazy.
2. No mommy issues.

Those two, I've decided, are inviolable. Now, they do seem to eliminate most of the men I come across, but I don't really think that's a bad thing. There are a number of other, minor rules to which I allow exceptions, such as "No double-dipping (i.e., sleeping with friends' previous partners)".

Based on my past experiences, though, I have been developing a third rule which may officially eliminate my chances of having sex ever again:

3. No more drunk sex.

This would eliminate one-night stands, I believe, which have been-- well, not a sustaining source of sex for me, or even a constant one. Just... the most recent.

I fear I am far too analytical to find a relationship here, even on a short-term basis. Which is a shame, because I determined that I would like to take a lover before leaving for grad school.

Alas. So, rules: what is your opinion on having them, and do you have any of your own?

Love, Twu Love

I feel like this article's been all over blog-land, lately but I just took the time to actually sit down and read it. It's the one about True Love and how it really can last a lifetime. A large part of me has wanted to say since hearing about it -- of course love really can last a lifetime. We wouldn't have so many stories idealizing it if it didn't happen to someone. And we wouldn't always be hearing about our grandparents, parents, neighbors, or cousins if it wasn't happening with some regularity.

The thing that shocked me about the article upon actually review it was this: unless I'm reading it wrong, the results are a lot worse than they are reporting. According to CNN, they scanned the brains of couples who'd been together for 20 years and couples newly in love. They found that 10% of the couples who made it to 20 years retained that same level of chemical reaction as the newbies.

But that's out of the couples that make it to 20 years! How many actually do that in this day and age? So a goodly amount (yes, I do think 10% is a goodly amount) of the people who have the stuff to make it stick are still as ridiculously in love now as they were then, but that's only out of the people who had the stuff to make it stick. And! Because we obviously haven't had time to research anything based on these findings, what happens when their brain chemistry does change? Will they progress similarly to a fairly new couple, meaning that they may easily fall out with each other? Or will they progress in a way closer to the other "we've made it this far" couples? I guess, in a way, I'm trying to ask: So we know a tiny number of couples do this, but is it really a good thing? Or should we be lauding the couples who've matured in their relationship and passed this point?

According to this old NYT article, only about half of couples make it to married 20 years. And that's married 20, not "together 20". I don't know the exact parameters of the True Love study. But 10% of "about half" is really more like 5%. True love is getting more and more elusive! And I'm still not sure that I even want to be in the 5%. I'd love to still go nuts over my boyfriend/husband in 20 years, but I'd also like to think we'd both mature emotionally in that time. Because I'm not sure I can handle 20 years of, "He's so fluffy!" as an answer to... everything. And only emotional maturity is going to change that one.

I should also say I was pretty shocked by the marriage statistics from the NYT article. I thought we were having a lot more divorces. Oops!

-- Lu

Crickets chirping in the night

It looks like Eli hasn't shown up yet to introduce herself. I'm a little hesitant about posting again before she gets here, but I don't want to leave us with crickets chirping as yet another blog falls into the land of forgotten ideas and New Years Resolutions to Write More. (Though I didn't make any NYRs and certainly didn't make one to Write More.)

So I'll post some filler by telling you about Big Project of the New Year Number One. I generally start a LOT of projects. I finish very few. This is one project that I'm almost desperate to finish. Both to show that I can do it and because it's so freaking cool. I'm making a weighted companion cube quilt.

The weighted companion cube is probably the iconic image from the video game Portal. (It's a tie between the cube and a cake, but since the cake is a lie and the cube is really there, I'm going with it.) Portal is a really fun logic game that, admittedly, I've never actually finished. I gotten about halfway through. Now this isn't surprising, I never finish video games. I never even finished Kingdom Hearts which I played obsessively, loved, and completed all but the final boss battle. And I do mean all -- I did the minigames, even the ones I hated, in the name of completion. Just not that last battle.

Portal is really fun, the cube is highly recognizable, and frankly it gets put in a lot of crafts. For my pursposes, it's going to be a bit tricky to sew, as I'm not half assing it. As my first sewing project in about a year, I'm going to fully quilt it. For me, that means 256 five inch squares that I expect to sew down to four inch squares (I'd hope for quarter inch seams, but I'd also be dreaming) on a new machine.

Right now, I have the pink squares cut and the black, edging squares cut. I only have gray and dark gray to cut. But I want to start the heart anyway. If you look to the "quilt" I don't really like, you can see the overlap of pink from how they made the heart. Now, if you pull out a Betty Crocker style half apron, you can see what I plan to do by looking at the pockets. It's more complex sewing, but I think it looks nicer. Unfortunately, I've only ever done it once before. To make a Betty Crocker style half apron. Wish me luck!

-- Lu

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Awkard Things

Dear lord, I hope we change this "theme" soon. Eli, you're in charge of picking something less like kindergarten.

In other news, I can't think of a better way to introduce myself than my current dilemma. I spend a lot of time at my boyfriend's house. I get a long great with his roommates and spend the night regularly. As of late, however, I've noticed a small problem. His lady roommate and I use the same tampons and pads (different pantyliners). While I know which tampons are mine (despite the same brand and style, I get the multi-pack while she gets the normal size packs), I don't know which pads are mine. We get exactly the same ones.

I would never dream of stealing hers, but during my last period, I noticed my pads were exactly where I thought they were, kind of chucked to the back of, admittedly, her shelf. (Please note: I don't have a shelf in the bathroom, it's not like I live there.) So I grabbed one and did my thing and didn't really think anything of it. Until I realized that they were disappearing at a rate unlike my consumption. It became my belief that we were pulling from the same pack.

Not a problem, I recently replaced the pack and honestly don't really care, but how do you approach the topic that either I was taking hers or she was taking mine? To some extent, I'm not interested in approaching it as long as when they are gone, they get replaced by someone before another 11pm walk to the store in the middle of the cold, snowy winter has to be made, but at the same time, part of me really wants to know: are they mine or hers?

Deep down, I think my worry is that despite remembering chucking the pack onto her shelf, despite having just replaced them, I may have been taking her pads. And that seems like an incredibly poor thing to do to someone who doesn't even complain when you spend enough time at their house that you have to keep all of these things there.