Friday, June 27, 2008

YouTube Fridays

I am stealing this from FranIAm, because it is always "teh gays" fault for everything.

And of course Roy Zimmerman to round out the anti-gay marriage satire.

Monday, June 23, 2008

George Carlin R.I.P.

The classic George Carlin seven words routine.

A newer Carlin routine, Pro-life is anti-women.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Music changes everything

I am shamelessly stealing this from Shakesville. It is amazing how much our perception of a movie changes purely based upon the music that accompanies it.

Requiem for a Day Off

I should blog more

I really thought that after moving and such I would be blogging more and I haven't really been doing that. Since I am not currently working, it seems to throw off everything. I just have too much time at home and so I get bored and sleep. I should be blogging more, I keep thinking I should blog more, but my life has become so out of routine, it is difficult for me to think of things to blog about.

Monday, June 16, 2008

YOU can get arrested for blogging

This article discusses the fact that there are many places around the globe where you can get arrested for blogging. You can get arrested in China, Egypt and Iran for expressing your thoughts especially those that oppose the government on a blog. According to a report by the University of Washington, 64 people have been arrested because of blogging since 2003. The Committee to Protect Bloggers reports that 344 people have been arrested in Burma alone for blogging, but it is difficult to verify whether the arrests were for blogging. But it does seem clear that in some places it can be illegal to blog or at least to express a contrary opinion from the government on a blog. But don't worry, it isn't just in Asia and the Middle East that you can get arrested for blogging, it has happened to British, French, Canadian and American bloggers over the past four years.

There is a common joke that I have seen many places on the blogosphere among those of us who are progressive bloggers that we will end up in Guantanamo for blogging. Well, it looks like this is not so much a joke as something that is beginning to happen. As is pointed out in the article , as more people begin to blog, arrests are expected to rise. And as we get closer to the elections and Bush Co. realize that McCain is not going to win the election, we may see more arrests for blogging, but of course it wouldn't be said that it is for blogging. The arrests will be for violating the Patriot Act, of course. But as long as we have a supposed freedom of speech, lets keep expressing ourselves and see ya at Guantanamo.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Moving Pt. 2- The moving gods were not to be denied

So we woke up Tuesday morning, load up the cube at the U-pack place, take stuff to Goodwill, take the truck back to Penske, run home take a quick shower and we are off. The plan was to stop in Asheville, NC and camp that night, but as we drove we ran into two issues. One, it kept raining off and on and we weren't sure about setting up a tent in the rain as neither of us had used this specific tent before and two, we were having issues finding campsites right off the main highway. We drove for about an hour longer than we had intended and it was getting late and both of us were getting hungry, tired and crabby. We tried one campground, but it seemed to be for the river rafting companies in the area and was a bit sketchy. So at this point, we decided to just find a hotel and crash for the night. We found one that would allow us to have Logan in the room with us and it didn't even cost us anything extra, they just said that if he disturbed any of the neighbors we would have to pay for their rooms too. Well, of course there were no issues with this, he doesn't really bark anyway. We decided to go out and grab some dinner as we were both starving. As we were eating, the sky opened up with really heavy rain and thunder and lightning. GG and I commented to each other that the camping gods must have been good to us or something as we didn't have to deal with camping in the rain and we would have probably have had to find a hotel anyway as there was no way we would have been able to stay in the tent with the torrential downpour anyway. This was a goodnights sleep, as I had sold my bed a week or so earlier and so had been sleeping on an air mattress so a real bed was really great. We woke up, had a continental breakfast that had come with the room and laid around for a bit before we took off for Berea, KY, our next stop. We were going to Berea because GG had some friends that lived there and she wanted to visit with them and see the house they were building for themselves. We got to Berea no problems, GG's friend has suggested a camping place for us to stay at so we went to there to set up. The tent camping was in just a big field at the back of the RV camping property, which was fine, but we also were trying to find some shade for ourselves and for Logan. We did find a slightly shady spot for us and I got Logan out and onto his tie-out so that he could be out while we got the tent set up, well, Logan decided that the tent was a good place to pee, so as GG was laying out the tent he peed on it. We got this washed off with some water and paper towels and then got to setting up the tent. It was super easy to do and GG and I worked in a nice fashion of me pounding the stakes in and she figuring out where things needed to go. Until... right as we were finishing up the outer tent which was supposed to act as a rain cover, something came flying onto the tent and the ground around us. A hawk had eviscerated a bird or thrown up or something, but there was bird parts all over the ground and the tent, which was totally nasty. GG cleaned the bird parts up, I just didn't have the stomach to do it, I stood there and gave her moral support and poured water on the bird meat, but I couldn't touch the meat or clean it off in any way really. Logan also got some of the meat before we got it cleaned up, so he had a bit of a snack and seemed to really like this. We finally got the tent finished and went and visited with GG's friends. We had a really great meal with homegrown veggies and some moonshine, mmmmmmmmm. We went back to the tent and started to get ready to sleep so we would be ready for the next and final day's drive. But as we were laying down, we had some creepy guy looking for his friend stop at our tent looking and then later he drove off, which creeped out both of us. The tent was barely big enough for the two of us let alone Logan too, so after trying for a minute or so, he decided he wanted to sleep in the car instead and we did this. But even so, I don't think GG or I really slept well that night and by 5 AM we had the tent taken down and we were on the road north. This final day of driving was really easy, boring at times and we were both pretty tired still so we switched off driving more often and drank a lot of caffeinated drinks. We finally got here to home at about 3 PM and the main part of the adventure was over.

We still need to unpack the cube on Monday afternoon or Tuesday. I had an interview on Friday with a Bright Horizons center in Chicago, which is who I was working for in NC. I have an interview at a Kindercare center on Monday and a second interview on Tuesday at the same Bright Horizons, so hopefully sometime soon I will have a job.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Moving Pt. 1- It was hot!!

Overall the moving process was hot and exhausting. We started when GG came down and I picked her up at the airport on Saturday night. This was a rather relaxed night. The next morning we woke up and spent the entire day cleaning and finishing packing. I had gotten quite a bit of the packing done, but there was more to be down and I had to re-pack some of the boxes to make them more manageable. So I packed and cleaned and GG cleaned a lot too. She was an incredible help with getting things done. It is so great when you have help to get things down and can split up the chores among two of us. This was very hot work, I had the AC on, but still it was warm in my apartment. We were hot and sweaty for most of the day. We then went out for dinner and crashed that night. Monday was a day where we spent much of the morning running around doing errands. We had to take the internet cable server back to Time Warner Cable, get the oil changed among other things that just needed to get done. We then picked up the Penske Truck to load it up to then take it to the Relo-Cube from ABF. This was incredibly hard work. I have about 15 steps that we had to take stuff up and down and it was about 100 degrees outside. We tried to take our time and not pass out bringing things up to the truck. But by the end of getting everything packed in the truck we were tired, but it was only an about two hour packing process. Tuesday morning we woke up and took the truck over to ABF and packed up the relo-cube. The cube was awesome. We even decided to add somethings into the cube we were not planning on moving cause we had the room like a small bookshelf. We still didn't fill up the cube, the cube is a great thing when you are moving and don't want to have to drive a large truck and if when you move you don't have a whole house full of stuff. Then the travel to Illinois started, this was a whole new adventure which deserves its own post and will be forthcoming.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The adventure begins

We are almost done cleaning, just the last vacuuming to do and then we are off. We are heading to Asheville for about half a day, Berea, KY to see some of GG's friends and then we are making the last long day stretch up to Waukegan. See y'all in a few days.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Food consciousness

This is a follow up post to the post that I just did. I felt that if I had done both posts together it might have become too unwieldy and also I wanted to split it as way to allow those who want to comment to be able to comment separately if you so choose. So as I mentioned I just finished The Omnivore's Dilemma and really liked it. This book made me think about my own eating habits and the eating habits that I generally see when I go to the grocery store. As you may know if you have been reading me for a while, I have been trying to eat more locally grown foods. I frequent the two local farmers markets that are near me and I have even found milk that comes from a local dairy farm. I also do not eat that much meat, I eat no red meat, I try not to eat too much chicken and did not eat pork for a while and still do not eat it that often, but occasionally I will get bacon at breakfast if I am out. I have been saying for a while that my ultimate goal is to become a pescatarian, a vegetarian who also eats fish and sea animals. I can't imagine not eating fish and such, I like it too much and that is really what eating is about for me, enjoying what you eat. This is where the food consciousness comes in for me. We have lost some of our connection to the food we eat. We do not know where the beef or chicken that is on the table comes from. We no longer hunt or raise our own food in many cases. I seem to see a lot of people who have gardens, but could you sustain yourself on just the food you grow? The answer to this question for many of us is, no. There is also a growing movement toward organic food so much so that places like Whole Foods are popping up everywhere and even Walmart has organic foods. But is organic really that much better for us than industrial food? I know there are no pesticides used on the produce and no hormones given to the animals, but is that all there is to organic farming. Organic farming has the connotation of small farms or even larger farms, but these farms are supposed to be family run, at least in our own minds. They are places where the cows, chickens or pigs are roaming freer than on industrial farms and have a better quality of life and yet this is increasingly not the truth. Increasingly, organic farms are huge industrial farms that just have found other ways around the use of pesticides or hormones through loopholes. Also with big business comes the government and regulations. In order to have an organic label, these farms have to follow certain guidelines, which I thought makes them a bit better, but in reality these guidelines are created by the industry itself. So there are certain chemicals that can be added to the fields for the produce and certain injections that can be given to the animals that would still allow for the organic label, but seem to take us away from the original intention of organic foods. This labeling of foods is also an expensive ordeal for the farmers themselves. There is a glaring example of where I have seen local farmers that are growing things organically and yet cannot afford to have an organic label. The dairy farm where I can find the milk from at the grocery store, I went home and looked up on the internet. It turns out they are a smaller family farm that has grass raised dairy cattle and that does not use any hormones for their cows, but do they have the big organic label nope. I would guess it is a cost thing, it is easier for a large company like Horizon foods to afford to pay for a label than it would be for a smaller farm. This leads me to the next point, the transportation of products. Organic produce uses the same amount of petroleum to transport as the industrial food, but this is never added into the overall cost for this food. We like to think it is organic so it must be better for us and the planet, but is it really? I have even read that Horizon among other organic milk producers have to fly their milk in from countries as far away as Australia because there just aren't enough organic dairy farms here in the US. Imagine the fuel that has to be used to transport that milk across the world and then across the country to get to you at the grocery store.

This may seem like a rant against all non-local foods and against even organic and I guess in some ways it is, but that is not really the point for me. The point is in the title of this post, food consciousness. We need to become more aware of where our food comes from. I know from looking at the labels that much of the food I eat is industrially produced. It has high fructose corn syrup in it, that evil stuff, but that doesn't stop me from buying it. I am just more conscious of it. It drives me mad when I see people who buy the organic milk from the huge industrial organic companies and delude themselves into thinking this is somehow better for the planet and for the animal and even us than other milk. It may be marginally better, but if that milk has to travel so far to get from the cow to the processor to the bottling plant to the grocery store, doesn't it lose much of its freshness. Wouldn't we be better off buying from a local dairy farm, even if they are not totally organic? The milk would have to be fresher and hence the nutrients would be more intact than milk that is flown across the world and then travels another several hundred miles in a truck to the grocery store. I could never hunt and I am not sure how well I would do as a fisherman, but I am trying to be more aware of the food I eat. I know that salmon are increasingly being fed corn on fish farms and yet I will still eat it. To me it is not about stopping eating those things you like, it is about enjoying what you eat and knowing the costs that are involved in your food. It is about understanding that we live in a society where our food is becoming more and more processed and not denying this fact, but trying to find ways of finding food that is not as processed and not expecting that a label on a container like organic means that the processing is not there, but that the processing is just different.

Finally, I had an interesting thing happen to me recently which I may not have thought about until it happened. I bought some soy milk at the Asian market that I really like. The soy milk was nothing special, it was just an unsweetened soy milk. I wanted something for a vegetarian gravy I wanted to try and sweetened soy milk did not seem write somehow. So I got the unsweetened soy milk and after a few days I noticed a separation occurring in the milk. There was a watery layer below a much whiter layer that I assume must be the soy. I then looked at the label and the only two ingredients in this soy milk are soy and water. Now until that point, I had not thought of what was in soy milk and I have been getting it for a while. I rarely use it for drinking, although I do love chocolate soy milk, but it works well for cooking at times and for adding to iced chai or to iced mate. But I had never noticed a separation of ingredients before and it was at this point that I realized that the soy milk I usually get must have more ingredients in it that just soy and water. It must have things that keep the water and soy from separating so much. It was this simple observation and the reading of The Omnivore's Dilemma that added to this already ongoing journey of food and where I fit in my eating of it that I have been on for about a year now and I am sure will continue. So, whatever you eat today may you enjoy it, but also may you think about where that food comes from.

Book Review- The Omnivore's Dilemma: A natural history of four meals

The Omnivore's Dilemma is the journey of Michael Pollan trying to find out about the food that we put on our table and its origins. He first explores the industrial chain of food, then the organic chain and finally he attempts to be a hunter/gatherer. The first conclusion that Pollan comes to is that most products that we encounter in the supermarket can trace their origins or at least the ingredients can trace back to cornfields. Not only is corn is one of the main sweeteners we use, high fructose corn syrup (try to find anything sweet that is carried in a grocery store without this ingredient is very difficult), but it is what we feed to cows, both beef cows and dairy cows, chicken, pigs and increasingly fish. Pollan points out that even when we are looking at other vegetables corn may be involved in the packaging of the vegetable. Since corn is a prevalent piece in the entire industrial food chain, Pollan travels to a corn farm in Iowa to see how the process starts and then attempts to follow the corn as far along the food chain as he can. He follows the corn on two different paths, one to the cows and one to the chemicals. He buys a beef cows and wants to follow its life and see what happens to it. Pollan is able to follow the cow to where it is housed with thousands of other cows crowded together in a large barn. He sees the cows being given constant doses of antibiotics to keep them from becoming too sickly in these close confines. The cows are also fed many other nutrients and supplements as cows are natural grass eaters, not corn eaters and yet since we have the corn and it is cheaper to produce and will produce fatter cows, they are fed corn. This is really as far as he can follow the cow, he cannot see the kill floor where the cow is slaughtered, he cannot even find out the date of when the cow he bought will be slaughtered. On the other side, he again is given limited access to see how the chemicals are pulled from corn, but he is able to see how the corn is processed in many different ways to lead to many new chemicals to be added to our food. He ends this section with a trip to McDonalds to eat an industrially produced meal.

The next journey he takes is into the world of organic farming. Pollan discovers that because the idea of organic has become so popular in our culture, the companies that are now producing organic meat and crops are not much different than their industrial counterparts. They are still employing monoculture farming to produce one or just a few crops, they still house the cows, chickens or pigs in large barns where the animals still have no freedom to move around. Those fields we see on many of our packages of organic food do not currently exist if they ever did. The free range chickens have access to a door to leave their chicken house, but that is only opened for approximately two weeks before they are slaughtered and at this point they have been in this chicken house for a few months and so why would they think of going outside when they are used to the surroundings of the chicken house. The beef cows are still packed together in large groups, but because hormones can not be used to help bolster the cows immunity, there have to be many veterinarians that roam the barn keeping an eye on the animals and doing other things to keep the cows healthy. At the end of this section Pollan cooks a meal that is entirely from Whole Foods and is certified organic.

Third, Pollan travels to a small farm in Virginia that produces all kinds of vegetables and meats without the use of antibiotics or pesticides or hormones. This farmer, Joel Salatin, has a radical idea of how to raise animals. He lets them graze outside and rotates the cows and chickens and pigs in a manner that allows the land to be replenished and the animals to work in a way that would be natural. In other words, he follows what would be the natural pattern of how these animals live. For example, the chickens go into a field after the cows as they prefer the grasses they eat to be shorter and chicken also love to eat the grubs and bugs that live in the excrement of the cows. Salatin create a farm that is self sustaining in many ways and keeps the land and the animals healthier. Pollan even helps with the slaughter of the chicken on the Salatin's farm as that is the only animals that a farmer is allowed to slaughter himself, beeves and pigs must be sent to an industrial slaughtering plant. At the end of this section, Pollan create a meal of chicken from the Salatin's farm among many other local produce and even some local VA wine.

The final section is about Pollan's hunting and gathering of food for a meal. He has to learn to hunt and shoot a gun, which he had never done before, so that he can hunt wild pigs in northern California where he lives. He also learned how to forage for mushrooms and how to find mushrooms you can eat and that wouldn't kill you. He then creates a meal from things he has found or hunted himself.

Each of these food chains are different with the industrial and the industrial organic food chains very similar in many ways. The book was really interesting and informative. It changed the way I think about food and now has me checking the labels to see how many items I buy are from corn by-products. I find Pollan's writing to be informative and interesting, but not too overbearing or preachy. He gives you the information many times trying to maintain a bit of balance between showing the negatives in the different food chains and the positives in that same food chain. But this book is obviously written by someone and for people who are interested in learning about the food and where it comes from. This book has a slant toward the more locally grown food and away from the industrial food that is more common, but I also didn't feel that the biases were too overwhelming. But I am also becoming a proponent of local food and so where I didn't have problems with the book others may see something different. I would recommend this book if you have read other books by Pollan or if you are interested in seeing the different paths that food takes to get from the "wild" to your plate.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Youtube Fridays

I have been looking for and have found some episodes of this show that I loved from when I was a bit younger. I also think it kind of is how I view my little end of blogosphere. I am not sure who is who and where I fit into this class, but it just seems to work for me.

Head of the class

While I was searching for that, I found this and this is just so funny I had to post this too.

And this, now how many people remember this show. I also wanted to call it Vicki after the little girl, I am glad I now know the proper name of the show.

Small Wonder

Thursday, June 5, 2008

China has an official cheer

China has created an official cheer for the Olympics so that their fans can cheer on the Chinese athletes properly. Now I have been to many a sporting event and many college teams and professional teams have cheers that are pretty standard for their team. Many times these cheers are simple shouting the name of the school or team across the stadium while the cheerleaders lead, yes, I know this sounds stupid and in many ways it is, but it is also a way of cheering and is simplistic enough to learn. But this Chinese cheer has really complex movements and such. Ok, so they are not that complex, but still why does a whole nation need an official cheer? The Chinese government is even sending cheerleaders out to teach the people how to do this new cheer and people into the schools to teach the children this cheer. This is just pure government gone overboard and a bit scary too that people's freedom of expression (cheering) has to be regulated. I know there are so many other things about the Olympics this summer I could be focusing on, human rights abuses in China, issues over the Chinese occupation of Tibet, the fact that the Chinese are going to be restricting visas and even if you have tickets to the Olympics does not guarantee you a entrance to the country and that any protests must be government approved, but the fact that they have created an official national cheer just seemed over the top to me.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The heat index was 99 degrees here this afternoon

It is offcially summer here, so here is an ol' skool video.

Monday, June 2, 2008

To hell in a hand basket I go

I am stealing this from Politits, cause it looks like fun.

Drunkard - Define drunkard. I am not that wild but i do like to drink and I have been really drunk a few times.
Liar - Yep, but who hasn't
Thief - nothing major that I can think of, but I have taken things like paper and office supplies
Sports fan - HELLZ YEAH this one dooms me alone
Blasphemer - I have blasphemed and liked it.
Money Lover - Not all of the time, but if I had it I would like it quite a bit.
Pagan - Since I am not a Christian, I guess by your definition I am a pagan and damn proud of it.
Homosexual - not so much, but I also support them and their right to be treated equally so I guess that probably make me as bad as a homosexual
Prostitute - hmmmmm nope
Witch - Sure, why
Atheist - Agnostic
Gambler - If I had the money, sure.
Porn Lover - Shortbus seems to explain this one, as I love this movie and I am sure it would be considered porn to this person and most people really
Whoremonger -hey, that is not nice to call my friends that
Child Molester - "If you take sexual advantage of her, you're going to burn in a very special level of hell. A level they reserve for child molesters and people who talk at the theater." (Name this show)
Evolutionists - Yep, I is one of these
Pot Smoker - I did once or twice and didn't like it, does that count?
Lesbian - Male lesbian
Fornicator - I have fornicated
Masturbator - I have, yes
Hypocrite - Ummm yeah
Psychic - I am no Ms. Cleo but at times I get weird feelings, they turn out wrong 99% of the time, but that 1%

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Movie Review-Lars and the Real Girl

Lars and the Real Girl is the touching story of a man who falls in love with a love doll. It is difficult to do too much of a synopsis of this film as you either give too much away or you make it sound frivolous and in many ways kind of perverted, which it isn't. The film is portrayed as a oddball comedy which it is for the most part. It is also a story of a man and his trying to overcome his own insecurities and social anxiety and a film about one community coming together to help him. So I will just use the description I have, it is about a man who falls in love with a love doll and then tell you to just rent it and know that there is so much more to this film.

The acting by Ryan Gosling, who plays Lars, is amazing. He has to be able to convince us as an audience that he has this social anxiety and then as the movie progresses he has to interact with an inanimate object as though she were real. You feel for him and his attempts at normality in a very difficult life. The rest of the cast is amazing as well. It is hard to single out his brother, sister in law, the doctor who helps him and a whole town of people that allow him to feel normal and that encourage him to find ways to become more active in the community. After watching the extras for this film, I appreciated it even more as each of the actors and the director and writer talked about how it was a team effort to make this film and yet the script was not altered very much. This is a film about love and about how important human connections are. We all need connections in our lives and this is just one film's way of showing these connections.