Sunday, September 28, 2008

Men do Sports, Women ... ?

Do me a favor:

Next time you visit your favorite bookstore, do a recon mission on the magazine organization and report back to me.

Yesterday, at Barnes & Noble in the Vancouver Plaza, I hunted through the Sports section of the periodicals for fitness magazines. They had all the sports genre mags. And Fitness magazines for men. I know there are fitness magazines aimed at women. And that most of them are put out as "sister" magazines to the men's versions. Where were they?

Oh, that's right. In a different aisle, filed under Women's Interests. With the Wedding magazines and Fashion fluff.

I'd love to hear if this is a universal bookstore organizational method... and if anyone else has noticed.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Good Causes



So I'm a little late on this bandwagon, but I've read this magazine and it's one I'd like to see survive for my daughter to read... check it out.

BYO-Panem Part II

Education for the 21st Century
By Riane Eisler

Now that's a circus worth your time!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Monday, September 15, 2008

Granola Bar Irony and Other Nonsense

For those who asked, I used Alton Brown's granola bar recipe, found here: Alton Brown's Granola Bar Recipe on Foodnetwork.com. My add-ins were pumpkin seeds, dried cranberries, dried blueberries, dried cherries and chocolate chips (which melted but I still stand by that choice).

I love these granola bars. Mr. Geeky likes them. The kids won't eat them. Heh.

Flashback to my childhood: My devoted mother almost never bought convenience foods. We rarely ate out. So my sister asked for "storebought" (i.e. Wonderesque fluff with pseudo-crust) bread for her birthday. At school I'd trade the homemade chocolate chip cookies for twinkies.

Lest anyone think I am crunchier-than-thou, I thought the rest of today's blog would begin my confession:

I prefer processed peanut butter over the "natural" kind. I have tried to cultivate a more "refined" preference, but I just hate the whole experience with natural pb. I hate how the oil on the top splashes out when I'm trying to stir it up and gets everything all greasy. I hate how it has to be stored in the fridge and is then so rock hard it tears up the bread and won't stick to celery. For the last several years I've bought the natural kind because I felt I should like it. Well I don't like it. When I was at the grocery store, last week, I bought Skippy and since then I've been stuffing the natural pb chunks chipped out of that last jar into the dog's Kong... but it turns out she doesn't like it either. I'm going to have to wash the peanut butter brick out of the dog's chew toy. Go figure.

I will pay extra for organic dairy products but I just can't spend the money required for organic/free-range meats. We are eating more vegetarian meals. Punctuated by fast food about once per week. And not high quality fast food, either. The kids love Mickey D's. I feel guilty about sending all those stupid happy meal toys to the landfill, but I throw them away anyway, when I'm pretty sure the kids won't miss them.

I won't cook or bake for myself. If Mr. Geeky won't be eating with us or if I'm by myself I will neither cook nor go out. I will eat one of those meals that comes packed in a little plastic tray. FYI - Ethnic Gourmet's Chicken Masala with curried brown rice and peas is actually quite good. Anyone looking through my trash would call my foodie bluff and I'd have to admit that I'm as lazy as anyone else. But then I'd totally tease them about digging through my trash, so it would all work out in the end.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Tough

I just got back from the gym. Did weights and then pushed myself HARD on the cross-trainer. Interval course. 30 minutes. How far did I go (in elliptical miles - not sure how that translates to actual road miles)? 4.05 miles. Yeah!

But what really makes me feel tough? Fighting off a dog.

Last night I was trying to coax the baby to sleep. Usually this is accomplished by strapping her to my back in the ergo and then cleaning the kitchen. She zonks out and I move on to wrestling the other two kiddos into bed. On this particular occassion, kitchen cleaning didn't do the trick so I headed out for a walk around the neighborhood.

That didn't work either because, about four blocks from home, we were attacked by a Boston Terrier. Yeah. Thank goodness it was just the terrier. Its friend was barking madly behind the fence and sounded much larger.

Before the attack, I saw it running toward me. I wasn't terribly concerned, at first. I've always thought of Bostons as being quite sweet and people-friendly. Then it jumped and bit me right above the knee. I was so surprised and the adrenaline hit so fast that it didn't hurt. My thinking just went into slow motion as "Crap! The dog is biting me!" began to process. I shook it off, but it kept jumping, biting at my leg. For a few more seconds I continued to react defensively, but the last jump, higher, was too close to the baby.

I side-kicked the dog in the chest. Hard. While saying, "NO!" in my loudest, deepest voice. The dog still jumped and paced and barked, but out of range. So I slowly turned and walked away.

Twice I heard the clicking of its nails on the sidewalk behind me, but I didn't turn and it finally disappeared.

Now I'm trying to process the event. I have never kicked a dog, before. I have always liked dogs, in general, and while I have been wary of some dogs in some situations, I have never been bitten by a dog. I have no bruises. I was not actually hurt - and I can't help but think that if the dog had actually wanted to hurt me, it certainly could have. So what was going on? Did I react appropriately?

If the second dog hadn't been going nuts behind the fence, I would have knocked on the owners door to let them know what happened. But I wasn't going to risk it, so I didn't.

It could have been much worse, but it wasn't. So part of me wants to just let it go and assume that there won't be a problem again.

But what if the baby had been in a stroller and not on my back? What if I'd had another child walking with me? What if the next person to walk by is scared of dogs and screams and runs, inciting the predator instinct?

What a pain in the butt (ha!).

Hmph.

Panem et Circenses, Remix

... iam pridem, ex quo suffragia nulli
uendimus, effudit curas; nam qui dabat olim
imperium, fasces, legiones, omnia, nunc se
continet atque duas tantum res anxius optat,
panem et circenses. ...

(Juvenal, Satire 10.77–81)

... Already long ago, from when we sold our vote to no man,
the People have abdicated our duties; for the People who once upon a time
handed out military command, high civil office, legions — everything, now
restrains itself and anxiously hopes for just two things:
bread and circuses. ...


So.

I made granola bars, this morning. Have I mentioned how much I dislike processed food. I admit I'm as tempted by the pretty boxes and cellophane and time-saving technology as any other descendant of hunter-gatherers. But I'm trying to wean myself away from all that perceived ease. It's just habit, after all. In reality it doesn't seem to be taking any longer to make simple foods from simple ingredients than it did to browse the grocery aisles, sort through boxes and compare prices, take them home, dispose of the first three layers of wrapping to store the stuff, before eventually having to unwrap final boxes and bags, do whatever final prep appeared necessary, and eat a mess of sodium, saturated and/or trans fats and weird chemicals, colors and flavors... all for supposedly easy meals and snacks.

So as the granola bars cool I'm contemplating the idea of ease.

What is easy? What isn't? Is "easy" a good thing or a bad thing?

I see two concepts here - ease as a form of simplicity and serenity versus ease as a purchased escape from all the crap already marketed as necessary and expected.

I've heard the argument, before, that people buy junk food because it's the most inexpensive and the easiest to prepare. Let's take the example of white bread. Usually store brand white bread can be purchased for anywhere between $1.00 and $3.00 per loaf, depending on sales or promotions. It costs me about $0.45 - $0.95 per loaf to bake my own bread. Now that I've made a lot of bread, it's very easy and requires little attention on my part - so most of the bread-making time is actually free for other things. Add in the health benefits and the extra oomph of fresh bread from the oven. No contest.

The biggest obstacle? I have to be home to do it. Easy. As long as I don't get distracted by all the circuses.

What are my circuses?

Classes so I can get paying jobs to buy stuff like newer cars, fancier clothes... and processed foods (because I wouldn't have time to cook the good stuff).

Suburban bourgeoisie classes and sports for my kids (you know the "educational" stuff you stick your kids with because all your friends are doing it).

TV and computer games that suck up my time as I obsess about decompressing from spending my days doing a billion things I think I ought to do, rather than just a few things I actually want to do.

It's all just a way to anesthetize oneself when the cacophony of reality gets too overwhelming.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

But Seriously...

I have to admit that I kind of wanted to like Sarah Palin. You know, small-town girl makes good... Grrrrl power... Hear me roar... Need I go on? I didn't think so.

Unfortunately for the GOP, we women can't be counted on to go all hysterical. My uterus will not magically jump from my body and run off to the polls, leaving my brain behind (hmm... strange imagery) to impotently seethe while the sex organs obliterate any risk of hanging chads in order to cast their vote for that other uterus person. Yes, the GOP may indeed be undone by research and the resulting logical choices.

Here's a fun little example of the difference between the people I'll be voting for and the people I won't: Wasilla Charges Rape Victims.

Think about it. A victim is raped... so in order to press charges (which is a shaky proposition under even the most pristine investigative circumstances) she must have something in the ballpark of $1200 - for the rape kit. And a rape kit is performed in a hospital, which is likely to run up quite a bill beyond that. Lovely. I find it interesting to contemplate what kind of environment this creates, coupled with a chief of police who is clearly antagonistic about the costs related to pursuing rape charges. And a mayor (governor-to-be, and perhaps our next VP) who is opposed to abortion, even in the case of rape and incest. According to Feminists for Life, a group with which Palin identifies, Plan B is out of the question, too.

Wow.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Ouch

So we're watching the news...

Correction:

The kids are watching the news while I am playing Mobsters on myspace and Mr. Geeky is eating my cupcakes (not a euphemism... and a whole other blog).

Anyway, cue a soundbite - Governor Palin asking, "What is the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull?"

Mr. Geeky replies drolly, "3 IQ points."

Oooh. Snap.