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Subject:Massacusetts Thanksgiving
Time:01:07 am
So, I traveled to Massachusetts to visit my sister for Thanksgiving. I was driving all day Wednesday, and she had no food in her house, so we were going to go shopping Thursday morning. We had a menu all planned out.

Then we learned that by law, all grocery stores are closed for Thanksgiving in MA. The only things open are convenience stores and some bodegas. So we spent two hours driving around Cambridge trying to scramble up something for a Thanksgiving meal. This was the result.

We were somewhat more successful than we initially feared we'd be, and moreso than that one other Thanksgiving some years back where we just had to get Chinese takeout.

Our menu:

- Chickpea & tomato soup with rosemary
- Pumpkin and ginger risotto
- Cranberry sauce
- Mashed yams
- (canned) Green bean casserole with toasted almonds
- Bread stuffing with celery, mushrooms and walnuts.

We also had an apple tart for desert.

The green bean casserole amusingly took the most work, since I couldn't find mushroom gravy, and so had to make vegan cream-of-mushroom soup from semi-scratch. We could only obtain canned green beans, and canned "pieces and stems" of mushrooms, but we got vegetable broth and soymilk and flour and managed.

I am still sad there was no Tofurky this year. But thankful for the food and company. :) And thankful for all of you, as well. Hoping you had a joyful holiday.
Spill your mind: 2 Dry Martinis or Pour me a double

Time:06:31 pm
Hurricane proved personally disappointing. Rain, yes, but not all that much wind, and not even any power outage. Stocked up on water and candles for nothing. We had wanted to have a candle lit slumber party--instead we just drank a lot of wine and watched "I Love You Phillip Morris" and went to bed after nothing happened.

There were downed trees and some flooding in the neighborhood though, so others got it worse.
Spill your mind: 2 Dry Martinis or Pour me a double

Subject:London riots
Time:07:18 am
I feel I ought to post about the London riots instead of posting about my usual more trivial things, but I don't really have much to say that hasn't been said elsewhere, and better. For instance, here. This is a very good post about it, and from someone a lot closer to the situation.

In shorter sound bytes, I like what my friend elizabrown said: "When the world’s youth [...]have no jobs, no future and the economic system is crumbling before our eyes because the older generations want to preserve their vast wealth or their exclusive society then you get a very very angry generation."

Or as she replied to a complaint about how the riots didn't seem "political," but merely "blatant thuggery," since there were no specific demands and the rioters didn't specifically target corporations or government headquarters. "It doesn't necessarily have to be political. People just get mindlessly angry when things are shit for long enough."

I would disagree a little though. It's not organized, but it's still political, even if it's not a self-conscious political statement. It's a class of people who have felt themselves trampled underfoot rising up to howl.

And it IS mindless anger. It is rage, resentment and frustration that has reached a point beyond calm and reasoned thought. Almost by definition, people who are willing to run out and burn the streets without planning and premeditation are too incensed to think about whether their actions are productive. And of course once the mob mentality sets in, others will join, on much shallower impulses. That includes people like this girl, yes. All of it is deeply unfortunate.

And now the city is burning, and people are being put in danger, and local businesses are being razed to the ground, and it is not a pretty picture. And something needs to be done.

But when a pot is boiling over, the solution isn't simply to clamp down a heavier lid.
Spill your mind: 1 Dry Martini or Pour me a double

Time:10:32 am
I was linked to this site the other day, and ohhhh my goodness, it completely vanquishes any anti-materialistic instinct I may have (not that I was ever particularly anti-materialistic). I want almost everything listed there. It takes me back to my childhood fantasy of a house with many rooms just to fit in all the beautiful but unnecessary things.

And if I ever have a daughter, I would so want to put this in her room:

maybe with this:

As for less hypothetical future oriented things, I want this:

and this, just because:

and this:

And this is for thegreatmissjj:

Must get mansion and make it a palace of wonder.
Spill your mind: 9 Dry Martinis or Pour me a double

Subject:Blue Steel
Time:05:00 am
Today I watched Zoolander in full for the first time. It was ok. I still don't get why so many people like this movie. I mean, it wasn't bad, but I didn't laugh. Oh well.

The entire time I was watching it, I kept having a really hard time with suspension of disbelief regarding Zoolander's hair. I was able to let go of the fact that Ben Stiller is short and stocky rather than tall and willowy, as most runway models are, but the hair I couldn't get past. I kept wishing they'd have given him swishy side bangs, which I associate much more with male models, rather than that ridiculous brush-mop haircut. Who has hair like that, I kept thinking, and why would anyone buy that as remotely appropriate even as a parody of silly model haircuts?

So after the movie was done, I did a Google image search on "male model." And these were among the top results:

So I guess I was wrong. Man, do male models have terrible hair.
Spill your mind: Pour me a double

Subject:July 2nd was the real day of Independence
Time:07:23 am
and also when I (finally!) met up with shveta_thakrar and we had a day of exploring, capped off with fireworks.

She came to meet me in my province of West Philly, and then we took off for Chinatown (on the 34 trolley that never comes on weekends--what is wrong with you, trolley?). There was a block party and we foraged through street vendors selling Chinese clothes and entirely unrelated-to-Chinatown jewelry. I ended up getting a vintage sundress that I had to have tailored, and Shveta was more prudent and did not give in to impulse buys.

Then we walked over to South st to check out Loving Hut, a cheapie vegan lunch place I had wanted to try out. (And as their website just informed me, actually a chain restaurant!) The food varied (I got the wrap and wasn't too impressed with it, but Shveta's entree was much better), but it was decent for what's essentially a vegan fast food joint. But the interior decor was... something. First we saw a cute little drawing of a cow with a word balloon saying something like "I am happy cow, I have friends and a family, do not eat me, go veg!" That was silly, but ok and kinda cute. On the other wall, however, there was a collection of portraits of various celebrities and a sign: "These smart, beautiful people are vegan and vegetarian, why aren't you?" Which I found less cute. I find most such propaganda pretty cringe-worthy: I'd much rather there were just pamphlets on veganism available at the counter or something, rather than preachy signs and posters all over the place. But then! We noticed the tv! There was a large tv behind us set to a channel subtitled in every language--it was showing "natural disasters around the world" interspersed with talking sheep telling us to go vegan and save the Earth, and then Buddhist hymns about animal welfare by Supreme Master Ching Hai. Which makes sense with this little tidbit from the chain's website: "Supreme Master Ching Hai is the innovator for Loving Hut Vegan Concept. She wants to help the world with a more compassionate and noble way of living by making vegan food easily available to everyone in different parts of the world!" And I appreciate that, but the ever-present tv reel of New Agey cultish propaganda, less so.

I will say that for fast cheap food, even if some of it was rather bland, at least most of the options were pretty healthy. So if I was in the neighborhood and not in the mood for vegan hoagies or pizza at the much superior (but also slightly pricier Blackbird Pizzeria), I would go again, I suppose.

We then made our way down to Penn's Landing and walked into the Historic Pavilion Craft Market at 2nd at Lombard, which I was really excited about, because I keep trying to find that area when I am with Philly visitors and yet I never can. When I am walking around Old City by myself, I have stumbled upon that block many times. But whenever I am trying to show visitrs around cute quaint parts of Philly? Never.

Since Shveta was not a visitor and we were not looking for it, of course we walked right into it. But now I know where the area is for future reference. It wasn't so much the Market that I was looking for as the street, since it has cobblestones and the Pavilion, and the Artful Dodger pub. On this particular day, there were also several men and women in Colonial costume milling outside the pub--and more within. They said they were reenactors who stopped by there for dinner. See? This is exactly why I wanted to bring visitors there. So we could have dinner in a tavern on a cobblestone street, with people dressed in historical costumes dining all around us.

Eventually we got to Penn's Landing and rested there (it had been over 5 hours of walking!) while we waited for the fireworks. Well, Shveta rested. I walked another several blocks trying to find a place that sold fruit juice smoothies, and ended up giving in and just buying a Coke that I could have gotten at Penn's Landing anyway. The fireworks, however, were fantastic. We managed to get a spot down by the water, and it was beautiful. Really a great display, and much more impressive than I thought they'd be. So even though we then had to take over an hour to trudge back home in all the exit traffic, I am glad we decided to go there. All in all, it was a very fun day of walking and fountain splashing and craft marketing.

Not sure whether I'll go see them again tonight though.
Spill your mind: 1 Dry Martini or Pour me a double

Time:11:31 pm
So I've been catching up on Californication and it's... interesting. I really enjoyed the 1st season. It was raunchy and gritty and yes, very male-fantasy-focused, but in a way that I consider good fun sometimes. I read reviews complaining about it being misogynistic, but I didn't consider it particularly so. It was obviously written by men and the female characters weren't the best developed, yes, but that sort of goes with the territory when you're telling the story from the pov of a guy who's your classic embittered drinking-and-smoking-and-womanizing author. It was kind of silly sometimes how much play Hank Moody (the main character) got--I was rolling my eyes at women stopped next to him at red lights giving him their number uninvited (come on, David Duchovny isn't THAT hot)--but he also got his comeuppance with women occasionally. Thinking back on it, even in the 1st season, I don't think there was one single woman that Hank found attractive who didn't either end up sleeping with him or wanted to, but the plot didn't throw it in your face so much then. And the continuing storyline of him trying to win back the mother of his child, and his depression and aimlessness amid his hedonistic lifestyle, at least provided a nice sentimental balance.

But with the finale of the first season on, the 2nd season has just become awful and ridiculous. Attempting to win his lady love back is no longer in play (for various reasons), and Hank is still depressed and aimless amid even greater debauchery, but after the 1st season it just seems redundant. And the show has started to focus on the debauchery more, with a less critical slant, and to deal with its fallout less. Even as it presents Hank in clearly self-destructive situations, more and more the show seems to cast a fascinated and admiring gaze at both Hank and his shenanigans, in spite of their consequences. In the first season, he came across as damaged but compelling. Now, he's become some kind of antihero we're supposed to revere for his very damages.

And the show has also gone from being somewhat misogynistic and something of a male fantasy to just being an all-out over-the-top base male ego wankfest.

In the 1st season, Hank flirts with a cute girl at a supermarket buying wine, she follows him home, and sleeps with him. Then she robs him, but comes back to return his stuff because he treated her so nicely the night before. Acceptable fantasy.

In the 2nd season, he runs into her again, and she is just GAGGING to have a repeat of their go-around. She tells him how much she'd like to enjoy his carnal pleasures once more while "seductively" sucking on a Popsicle that she pops into his mouth as she leaves. That, my friends, is ohmygod cliche and just preposterous fantasy.

In the 1st season, Hank picks up a woman at a bar that he thinks is joking about being a prostitute, who turns out to in fact not have been joking. Even though he had not realized the situation, she insists on charging him anyway, and when he can't pay her pimp beats him up.

In the 2nd season, she comes back to tell him that even though she's a hooker, she enjoyed her tryst with him so much, and he was totally truly one of the best she's had, and she was really sad he never called her again to ask her out on a "proper" date. She spends quite a while detailing just how good he was in bed.

He goes to get a vasectomy, and the hot nurse tells him he's got a "great looking cock" and that she'd love to help him out get it back in working order. Come on! When does a vasectomy nurse compliment a patient's goods, or even care--and where would she ever offer herself up on the spot, except in really cheesy porn? And Californication, apparently.

He goes to the house of a married hottie who's off limits, and she has an equally hot Latina maid (in a perfectly fitted maid's uniform of course, of the kind real maids would never wear for fear of busting a seam when they do the floors). The husband is in a coercive relationship with the maid, but of course the maid wants nothing more than to make it with Hank about an hour after she meets him, because he's so charming. Part of his wonderful charm? He assumes for some reason that she doesn't speak English and attempts to monologue at her in terrible Spanglish as a way of making conversation. Mostly about what a bitch his ex is. Most normal universe ladies would find that racist and tiresome, but here it's the way for a hot hook-up.

He meets a female Rolling Stone writer who calls herself a feminist and once wrote a scathing review of him where she called him a "misogynistic prick no one would ever want to fuck"--and of course ends up asking to fuck him. And it's sooooo goood that she has to take a break in the middle to catch her breath. Of course.

There are a lot more pure misogyny bits, but I'm actually having the most trouble with these outrageously ludicrous teenage fantasy bits that are presented as serious plot development. I say "teenage fantasy" but I think even teenagers have more sophisticated fantasies than what this show peddles. (At one point another character finds himself having--nay, forced!--to fuck a porn star on camera when the lead male actor is incapacitated. He does this with permission and pressure from his wife, in order to salvage their investment in the flick. As he goes off to nobly bang the porn starlet he's obviously been fantasizing about, he whispers to his wife "I'm doing this for us, honey." She looks at him lovingly, and squeezes his hand.)

Anyway, if the show continues like this, I am in shock that this got 4 seasons on the air.
Spill your mind: 2 Dry Martinis or Pour me a double

Time:07:18 pm
When I was a little girl, I could never understand the phrase "I need my beauty rest." "Beauty sleep" or "beauty rest" just seemed like a nonsense concept--something silly and vain that grownups invented and that didn't really mean anything. In my head it went along with putting vegetables or sour cream on your face or whatever other bizarre practices adult ladies indulged in with the idea that it would somehow make them better-looking. But now that I'm edging closer and closer to 30, I'm amazed at the transformation of my skin the morning after I've had a luxurious amount of sleep vs the morning when I push myself to wake up. Not only do the under-eye circles lighten, but there is an overall relative smoothness and glow, and even small pimples and spots miraculously disappear. Maybe this is the time to start putting cucumbers and yoghurt on my face.

Whenever I look at postpartum-related products and services, it makes me kind of scared to have a baby. And I can't tell if it's pregnancy that's scary, or that our society that valorizes the taut, preternaturally youthful body to such a degree that the natural changes and distortions that pregnancy causes come across as drastic and upsetting.

(And of course some people's bodies don't seem to change much after pregnancy at all, so it's all pretty individual I suppose.)
Spill your mind: Pour me a double

Subject:Writer's Block: Get up
Time:09:40 am
If you had to eat the same breakfast everyday for a year (and it would be prepared and served to you), what would you choose?

When I was a child, I think I ate manna (semolina porridge) with raspberry jam most days for well over a year, and when I was a teenager, I ate a bowl of the same brand cereal every day for several years. In both cases, it was before school and I was half-asleep and hardly caring what I was shoveling into my mouth, but the point is, one can pick pretty much any basic breakfast and eat it for a year straight if need be.

However, I find reading others' answers to this oddly fascinating. Mostly because I have always loved hearing about what other people eat, and especially for a meal as simple and yet laden with comfort-associations as breakfast. Dinner and lunch can be endlessly variable, but most people have a pretty set idea of what breakfast is--which is why it's so interesting to me to read the different takes on that idea.

tatyana_fox Tea of a good sort and cottage cheese, or a cafe latte and a couple of slices of cheese.

me_forget_me Crepes with strawberries and sour cream and sugar ^___^

luna778 Black tea and bread-and-butter with anything. Maybe just a piece of bread with tea.

shoujohinoSmoked salmon and cream cheese on a whole wheat bagel, with a salad, and a glass of mixed fruit and vegetable juice, and strawberries.

labchance Buttermilk and toast with honey.

polet_soznaniya Fruit and herbal tea.

ishitpinecones Pepper and Egg Sandwich. And a waffle.

milly_parker Crumpets and jam motherfucker!!

themeekone PB on toast, with yogurt and orange juice.

anjoss I would have coffee and cinnamon pancake.

english_coast Oatmeal porridge with raisins, berries and almonds.

allalein Oatmeal and a chicken cutlet.

an_eke_name Eggs, rye bread, cheese, black coffee.

moonseternit Scrambled eggs with shredded potatoes and white toast with butter. Coffee and maybe orange juice.

And what is wrong with all of these people saying eggs? AND CEREAL? WHAT THE FUCK. You guys, the correct answer is...

(Common but boring answers in general included cereal, eggs and sausage/bacon, mushroom omelets, oatmeal, and bread-with-cheese or bread-and-butter-with-ham.)

Photo via talkative_nat
Spill your mind: Pour me a double

Subject:Tax Day: Part I
Time:02:49 am
Paid my taxes today, and had an interesting moment while I was waiting in line at the post office. I know I make little money. I'm unemployed right now, but I always knew my previous job paid me little money--$21K a year, and no health insurance once I transitioned from TA to Part Time Lecturer. ($21K was actually the high point--as a PTL I got a pay cut, too.) It didn't matter that much to me though--I couldn't afford fancy things and had to watch my spending, but I could pay rent and eat, so long as the rent was cheap, and I didn't eat out at upscale places. When I made the $21K I could also have a decent amount of disposable income for what I wanted--I managed my money ok, and could afford the non-necessities I wanted. So long, of course, as they were relatively thrifty non-necessities. I thought I was all right with it.

But prices have been rising, and salaries haven't, and even before I became unemployed, the money covered less and less, while as goods and services charged more and more. And I found myself in line today behind a woman, a little older than me but not very much--maybe in her mid-30s--but a woman who, in every other aspect, looked like any one of my friends, not that different from me. We were both waiting, both tired, both dreading the prospect of an hour-long line. There was a certain shared frustration that gave way to camaraderie in the post office line, and people helped each other assemble their returns, and find stamps, and shared pens and envelopes, and so on. This woman seemed particularly frazzled with all her papers. "My accountant just got these back to me," she explained as she attempted to extract her forms from a crumpled white envelope, and sort them into two slightly less-crumpled ones. While helping her put her packets together, I saw the top of her tax return: $120,000 taxable income. And at first I just thought "oh, good for her." And then I thought a bit more about how much money that actually was. And then I surprised myself by the fact that I felt angry.

Not at the woman--she was not really relevant. But at the number. I knew I made little money, but it took me standing next to this woman, not much older than me, not looking much different than me, in the same line as me, someone I initially took to be a relative equal--to realize just what that number meant, and how it reflected on my own numbers. This woman made 6 times as much money as me this past year. She didn't just have a better-paying job, she had a job where my full year's income was something she could probably afford to spend on a luxury purchase, had she wanted. What I was trying to live on was just a fraction of her own salary. What would it be like, it made me think, to have even twice the money I do? Three times? I would feel so financially liberated, and be able to afford so much more and worry so much less. And at even three times my salary, it would still be only half of what she made.

And what made me angry was that I did not feel it was right that, whatever job she had, it made so much more money--it was valued at so much more than my past job, and the jobs of my colleagues. I assume she has a nice degree, I assume she's a professional, that she has experience and that her job is demanding. I assume she works pretty long hours. I assume there's good reason for her to be paid well. I assume it's a given she should make at least twice my salary, and in fact three times is fine too. Maybe even four. But I know that Instructors/TAs/Lecturers also have a lot of education, I know that this woman is likely not smarter than me, I know that me and my fellow Instructors/PTLs also spend a lot of time on our jobs. I know that preparing a syllabus, preparing a lecture and lesson plan for every class, coming up with assignments, grading, responding to students' questions, keeping office hours, keeping on top of the material, compiling packets of hard-to-find texts, finding and obtaining relevant video for a more multimedia approach, (not to mention the actual high-pressure time spent leading the class) is also demanding. Teachers don't keep regular hours, but just because the schedule is flexible doesn't mean it is easy, or that our jobs don't take up time and effort. And even as a TA or a PTL... I do not think what we do should be valued at a 1/6th of whatever it is this woman does. The fact that I don't even know what it is she does doesn't matter--I know it's some sort of regular office job, but whatever it is, I still do not think it is worth six times of what TAs/PTLs/Instructors make. And yet she's still an office worker, with a salary that isn't unreasonably high--I know there are people who make far more astronomical sums, and while they may have more responsibility and I would agree they ought to be paid well, they should not be paid as much MORE than lower-class workers as they are.

I am not okay with the economic system of value in this country. I am not okay with the level of salary disparity that is considered acceptable between the various strata of employment. I am not okay with making 1/6th of the salary of someone who does NOT do 6 times my amount of work, and I do not feel that their job is six times as valuable as mine.

I am not saying she should be paid less, mind. But I am not okay with the fact that other jobs pay so damn little, and are paying less by the day.

And I am angry today, and reading things like this makes me even more angry.

From Reddit.com

"I just paid 4.21 for gas. The fast food restaurant I usually go to raised their price close to $7. Average cereal price is getting close to $4. At work there no salary increase, they just tell me I am lucky to have a job. What is going on? I am not happy."

"I fucking hate that "You're lucky to have job line" that wore out about 2 years ago. I also have had no salary increases in the last 3 years and the pricing of things is getting ridiculous. It's really bad when you are at the supermarket and you are wondering if you can afford this or that."

"I'm a regional sales manager making 50,000 with zero benefits. No health care, no bonus, no 401k, no nothing. It pisses me off when I see my friends, family, and other people in general in much worse situations and it's pathetic that I feel extremely lucky where I'm at. Especially considering just a few years ago someone in my position would have made 80-100k with full benefits."

And this: http://www.npr.org/2011/04/10/135272006/paychecks-cant-keep-up-with-rising-prices?ft=1&f=1001#commentBlock

I am not okay with where things are heading.
Spill your mind: 4 Dry Martinis or Pour me a double

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