Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Heroin sandwich

If ever you should find yourself hungry and in the magical land of Manhattan, I highly recommend a teeny lil' shop in Greenwich Village called The Peanut Butter and Co. Sandwich Shop. We've eaten there twice now, and I swear it's been a multiple-orgasm in my mouth each time. Perhaps this is because I have never progressed past the eating habits of a six year old. No kidding, I hate vegetables and many fruits. I prefer that we purchase macaroni and cheese in the wheel or dinosaur shapes. And I usually have a box of fruit-by-the-foot hanging around. So naturally, I love peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I eat them almost every day, sometimes twice. This place sells regular PB&J, but a bunch of really delicious variants. In the two times that I have been there, I have sampled four sammiches (presented in order of least to most favorite, although I still liked the "least" a lot!):

4. The PB&J of the week: This week was Crunchy peanut butter and pumpkin butter. Simple and tasty, perfect for fall.

3. The Elvis: The Boyfriend tried this one. PB, banana, honey, and bacon (bacon optional, but of course we got it because we love all things pig). I thought it was pretty good, but he wasn't sold on whether the ingredients complimented each other. I would say the worst part was that it was REALLY sticky. I was concerned that my ability to breathe was impaired. I would say that if this combo sounds like something up your alley, it probably is. If you're not sold on it in theory, you probably won't like it that much in practice.

2. Dark chocolate dreams: Chocolate PB, cherry preserves, and shredded coconut. A friend tried this one. It was pretty fucking good. And I don't even usually like cherries.

1. Cinnamon raisin swirl sandwich: Cinnamon-raisin swirl PB with vanilla cream cheese and green apple slices. I can still taste it. I have the shakes from withdrawal from it. I nearly peed my pants at first bite. Basically, it's heroin between two slices of wheat bread.

The sandwiches run between 5 and 7 bucks, and they all come with a bag of their own, kettle-style chips and carrot slices. The carrot slices were perfect in that they were cut the only way in which I will eat carrots (I don't fuck with those weird baby carrots. They taste funny. And I'm not good at cutting whole carrots. And if you don't cut them right they take WAY too long to chew and my jaw gets tired, and then sometimes I inhale the little bits into my sinuses and it's really uncomfortable. You get the idea). So it's a pretty good deal. If you ask, they will cut off the crusts for you, too :)

Plus they have an extensive and tasty beverage menu, including my all-time favorite, Oregon chai tea! I got hooked on that stuff during a brief and painful waitressing stint at an Eat-N-Park.

For anyone in NYC, this place is down on Sullivan St, between W. 3rd and Bleecker. And, in addition to being a really cool place to check out for yourself, it's totally an awesome place to take a kid to eat. I'm sorry that I didn't have access to a restaurant like this during my McDonalds-dominated childhood.

Anyway, I gotta go. My Chef Boyardee is ready.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Damn pinkos

Lucy (welcome to my blog, Lucy!) raised her concerns about electing Obama in my comments. What struck me about the comment is that it sounded a lot like the concerns that my parents have...issues that to me, an unemployed 20-something with a ton of time on her hands, have obvious answers; however, other people are actually employed and do not have limitless amounts of time to research these issues on the interweb while eating Nutella straight out of the jar (if you have yet to try Nutella, I am sorry to tell you that you are living an empty and meaningless life).

So I'm going to address these particular issues in a post, since it seems too involved to attempt on the comments board.

His resume is a little thin and he has yet to tell me HOW he plans to implement CHANGE. I am all for CHANGE, I just want some details.
This is the plight of all politicians, no? The details are always sketchy. Not to mention, the rhetoric is bothersome in that it is of a general nature. To address this topic, you have to ask yourself what change you are looking for. Do you want economic change? Social change? Foreign policy change? Each of these is a complex category, and has to be addressed separately. I think one of the best resources for this is a lil' site called ontheissues.org. You can search by topic or candidate. Frankly, I feel the best gauge of what a candidate will do is what that candidate has already done. Look for their past voting record, declarations that they have made, etc. I agree that it is hard to get a "straight answer" as to what exactly will happen. But knowing his stance on the issues is usually a good indicator.
As for his "thin" resume...honestly, he's a young guy for a presidential candidate, no kidding. But he's been a legislator since 1996, a senator, since 2004, he belonged to a law firm specializing in civil rights and neighborhood economic development for many years, among many other things. He's packed a lot of punch into his 47 years. Go ahead, google his career. Wikipedia is a good resource. His resume is only "thin" compared to someone with 30 extra years on him. And if you compare it to Palin...god, don't even get me started. The bottom line is, that "thin resume" stuff is just hype put out by the McCain campaign. If you compared McCain to Strom Thurmond, McCain would look like a political toddler, too.

over the years, I have become less fond of taxes
Ah yes, the taxes. The older we get, the more money we make, the more important that becomes. So the answer here is yes, Obama will raise taxes. But wait! There's more! He's only raising taxes for those that make above $603,403. Do you make that much? Then maybe you should vote for McCain, whose tax cuts benefit that group more than any. The Washington Post has a really simple chart to see where you would fall on the tax cut spectrum. Also, you can go to electiontaxes.com to estimate your personal taxes for 2009-12 under the candidates' proposed plans. The answer may surprise you! Also, I want to point out that if you make enough money to have increased taxes under Obama, it really is nicer of you to share the wealth. One person reaalllly doesn't need that much. And they certainly don't need more tax breaks. That's just how the rich get richer while the poor get...well, Nutella on the couch.

his health care program scares me. Are we getting dangerously close to Socialism with his ideas?
This is a concern that my father has expressed as well. I'm going to go out on a limb here and guess that Lucy had the unfortunate experience of being raised during or close to the Cold War. There is no reason to fear universal programs like these. They don't make us "communists." They don't mean that we'll all have to wait in bread lines. They don't mean that everything you earn will be taken away from you and divvied up among the workers. I promise. The Republicans just call socialism because they know it will scare you. We have a lot of good socialized programs: The post office, public schools, medicare, social security. Yes, these systems have flaws. So do the privatized ones. BUT. Here's the thing. A lot of people need these systems. Not everyone can afford private schools. Or health care. Or retirement. A lot of people need help. The people who make the most money do "earn" it, but they are often able to earn it because they already occupy privileged places in society. The opportunity to earn money was always presented to them, and they were able to take it. There are a lot of people who do not EVER get the opportunity to earn as you do. They grew up poor, they had uneducated parents, they did not have access to proper health care, they did not have access to a good education. Your tax dollars help those people have access to those things. Those people are not suckling at your teat. They just need some help. We aren't communists for helping our fellow Americans reach their full potential. Helping those people will make the country a far better place, even if it means you take one vacation this year instead of two. Everyone should have access to quality and affordable health care!! And privatizing it ensures that many people are barred from receiving the help that they need. Cancer patients can't get treatment, children die when they didn't have to. Insurance companies do everything they can to avoid paying for treatment costs. I myself do not have healthcare right now. If I discover a lump in my breast tomorrow, do I deserve to suffer and die because I can't afford treatment? If your company went bankrupt tomorrow because of corrupt corporate practices and you got laid off, and then your child needed an emergency appendectomy that you can't afford without your healthcare, does that make you lazy and deserving of suffering? This is a reality for many, many people. It's important to remember that not everyone is as lucky as you are right now.

As I have aged and worked hard for my money, well, I like to keep most of it or at least I prefer to give it to the charities I choose
Giving to charities is wonderful, but it's important to separate taxes from charities. Although tax dollars often do go to what some would consider "charitable causes" (social programs such as funding homeless shelters and early-childhood education initiatives), they go to a lot of other programs as well. For instance, I wouldn't consider the USPS a charity. Furthermore, tax dollars go to many different and specific institutions that absolutely must receive a certain amount of money to operate, and it would be too difficult to rely on the voluntary will of the people to donate that money (I seriously doubt that public schools could keep afloat under such a system. There's that whole notion of "my kid doesn't go, why should I pay?!").

The government doesn't seem to be doing such a 'bang up' job of handling our funds
I agree with you 100%! That's why I'm voting for new government leadership! McCain thinks the same as Bush. Check out his voting record. I believe that as someone with a lot of experience in civil rights and inequality, Obama will do something more reasonable with our tax dollars...aka, actually helping out the Americans who need it. McCain just wants to look out for his own...preserving the status quo of the white, straight, wealthy, and male.

The points Lucy brought up are all valid concerns of many voters. I hope that the links were helpful and cleared up some gray areas. Now I'm off to lick the Nutella jar clean.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Bloggers don't cry

Am I the last one to watch Boys Don't Cry? Probably. Either way, I'm disturbed and now recognize that it was a bad idea to watch a movie about social injustices (atrocities?) tonight, especially since there is a grievous one being committed against a friend of mine as we speak. Since I plan on retaining my anonymity in this blog, I wish to also respect that of my friend's (the incident in question is of an extremely sensitive nature). However, I hope to speak to him soon and gain his permission to write of his ordeal. In the meantime, I'll say this: It involves the Patriot Act and Orwellian government actions that disgust and sicken me. And they should have the same effect on you. So expect a very serious post in the near future.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Debate: BAM!

We had a nice little debate party last night, since a dear friend was visiting from out of town. I thought about writing a long-winded analysis of it, and maybe through the miracle of DVR, I will go back and do that later. But for now let's just say that OF COURSE I think Obama was the master debater (insert immature giggling here). But, having a background in the social sciences, I gotta say that what I'm really interested in are social issues, so I suspect I will have more enthusiasm to blog My Big Opinion after debates addressing those things.

For now though, I'll be lurking in Times Square and in other touristy places today, because that is the price you pay when you move to New York and have many out-of-town friends. If anyone cares to share less-conventional entertainment ideas for guests, I'd LOVE to hear them.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Recommended Read: The Frailty Myth

When the Olympics were on, the Boyfriend and I were sitting on the couch (most likely in our underwear, as per usual) watching the rowing competitions. Suddenly I had a revelation: There were no women on the rowing teams. Gender segregation in sports has always bothered me, but this suddenly seemed especially ridiculous. There isn't even any contact in rowing! Just some folks, sitting in a boat, pulling those oars with all of their might. Why aren't more women in the boats?

So I pointed this out. Boyfriend offered that perhaps women, possessing less muscle mass, are simply not able to row as quickly as males. Maybe if we could see women row, he suggested, we would see that their times don't match the men's, leading teams to recruit only men.

As if on cue, the women's rowing competitions started up. Sure enough, the women, although equally muscular-looking and impressive, were pulling longer finishing times. I can't remember what specific rowing competition we were watching, or the specific team winners and times. But for comparison purposes I went to nbcolympics.com and looked up a few: In lightweight women's double sculls final A, the final winning time was 6:54.74. In lightweight men's double scull's final A, it was 6:10.99. In the same competition, the slowest women's time was 7:04.61; the slowest men's was 6:19.96.

This is obviously not a scientific sampling, and there are a lot of other races to compare, and I'm by no means claiming to be doing something scientific here (stand back! I'm going to try science!)
But seeing these results really irked me, because I wanted those girls to pull equal times. So that got me to thinking: Really? Are we really weaker? Those women must train SO HARD to be there, I'm sure as furiously as the men train. And they still don't pull even times? That's a lot of cognitive dissonance for me, because I'm a firm believer that the only "natural" difference between men and women is that women have hoonannies and men have willy-wankers and everything else is societally constructed.

So, like I always do when I feel conflicted, I googled it. And I found this really great book, The Frailty Myth: Redefining the Physical Potential of Women and Girls, by Colette Dowling. And I ordered it. And I love it and I think it should be required reading for everyone, and should be taught in gym classes across the nation.

I'm not quite finished with it yet, because I'm also reading Anna Karenina and The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster at the same time. But so far it's banishing the nagging, itchy, dirty feeling of doubt in my head that women really are the weaker sex and there's nothing we can do about it. It's also making me feel guilty about being skinny, never exercising, and never participating in sports (I've always been ridiculously uncoordinated, and I think that plus the whole gender divide thing has always turned me off to sports and exercise in general). Basically Dowling explains a lot about the history of women and physical exercise (don't move when you have your period! Don't ride bikes, it will cause you to accidentally masturbate!) , how we've been conditioned to believe that frailty is more feminine and that physical strength is undesirable, how this harms us and what we can do about it.

I'm glad I found the book because it helped me clarify my feelings on a number of sports-related issues that have bugged me since youth: Powder puff football (once a year we get to "be like the boys"?? And there's NO TACKLING??) ; lack of gender integration in various sports; only allowing women to play softball instead of baseball (I wanted to try the baseball team, damnit); lack of parental encouragement in sports/general physical activity for daughters (Dowling points out that in a co-ed tee ball game, most of the girls don't even own their own gloves); teachers asking for the boys in the class to do some sort of heavy lifting (I remember one scrawny boy in particular being asked to do some heavy lifting over much stronger girls); media apathy towards professional female sports (did you know that there is a Pro female football league? I don't see you covering that, ESPN); among other things.

Dowling's book was also surprisingly optimistic about the progress women have made in the physical realm, often pointing out the differences between her generation and her daughter's. So, rather than leaving me feeling only angry and cynical, it also left me feeling a little better about the prospect of change (however gradual it may be). So, maybe someday, the elementary school on my block that has gender-divided recess on my street will pull out the basketball hoop for the girls, and the jump rope for the boys (I'm not kidding. They put the hoop away when the girls come out and give them all jump ropes. I haven't seen a single jump rope on the ground at boys' recess). And maybe I'll have a daughter, and she'll want to play baseball, not softball, and everyone will be totally cool with that. And we'll watch Olympic rowing together, and the co-ed teams will pull record times. One day.

Obama in a landslide

Remember the time Howard Dean got his crazy on and right then everyone was like, Yup, this is the end of the line for him. And then Old Howard got into his van down by the river and no one ever heard from him again?

I think last night was that day for McCain. I think that there were a lot of days like this for McCain beforehand, but for the rest of the country, this is the eye-opener. If McCain wins the election after this stunt, then it's rigged for sure. Because there is just no fucking way.

The only thing that will really icing this cake for me is if Obama goes ahead with the "debate" anyway and answers all of the questions by himself. Then I want him to throw down the mic and walk out with his hands in the air. Hell, Obama could punch a baby at this point and I still think he would win.

The polls are all shit (mmm do you think they're polling cell phones for all of the cell-only folks? I bet not. I also bet that that's pretty big demographic they're missing). It's going to be a landslide victory. Seriously. I call it now.

*punches baby, walks triumphantly out door*

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

What the fuck, PETA

I have a lot of problems with PETA. When I was a kid, I really liked PETA. I wanted to be a member. Who wouldn't want animals to be treated ethically? Who doesn't love animals? What are you, some kind of puppy-eating cyclops monster? DO YOU EAT PUPPIES??!!

But I digress. Now, as a bacon-loving adult, PETA just pisses me off most of the time. My cousin posted a link to this story, about PETA imploring Ben and Jerry's to use human breast milk instead of cow's milk in their ice cream (because some guy in Switzerland does it!). Let's go over the letter that Tracy Reiman sent off to my favorite ice cream fellas:

"Using cow's milk for your ice cream is a hazard to your customer's health. Dairy products have been linked to juvenile diabetes, allergies, constipation, obesity, and prostate and ovarian cancer."
Oh really? Because my understanding of these links have to do with feeding children milk before age 1. At least for the allergies and juvenile diabetes part. And for the rest of those claims, let's go over Stats 101: CORRELATION DOES NOT EQUAL CAUSATION. I'm sorry, PETA, does that confuse you? It means that although it is possible that cow's milk contributes to those problems, it is also possible that cow's milk is a very minor contributor to those problems, which involve many other risk factors. It is also possible that *gasp* cow's milk has NOTHING TO DO with those problems and just happens to be a characteristic of another variable that is actually linked to those problems (for instance, that people with a genetic predisposition to ovarian cancer also have a predisposition to enjoy sweet, fatty foods like dairy, but the dairy itself does not cause the cancer). For further reference, please note the relationship between pirates and global warming.

"The late Dr. Benjamin Spock, America's leading authority on child care, spoke out against feeding cow's milk to children"
When Spock made this recommendation in his last book before he died, it raised a lot of concern in the medical community. Spock advocated a very strict vegetarian/vegan diet for children that many pediatricians saw as almost impossible for average parents to accomplish---that it would require a mountain of careful planning. Other pediatricians spoke outright against it. This is a good article noting the medical community's response to Spock's sudden and extreme change of heart.

"Animals will also benefit from the switch to breast milk. Like all mammals, cows only produce milk during and after pregnancy, so to be able to constantly milk them, cows are forcefully impregnated every nine months"
Wow, did you know that human women's breasts operate in much the same way! That they don't produce nearly as much milk as a cow? That it would be almost completely infeasible for Ben and Jerry's to meet their demand? Unless, of course, they hired desperate women and impregnated them instead, over and over again. Is that what you want, PETA? IS THAT WHAT YOU WANT?

"The breast is best! Won't you give cows and their babies a break and our health a boost by switching from cow's milk to breast milk"
Yes, the breast is best for HUMAN INFANTS. As far as I could find, there was little to no research on the effects of human breast milk on adults (although it would make a great study). Some people claim that it has the ability to send cancer into remission, and that may very well be true, but until I actually see a scientific, peer-reviewed study conducted by an independent institution, I'm gonna go ahead and say that there isn't enough evidence to support the claim that our health would be "boosted" by using human milk in ice cream. Also, let me repeat that last part: IN ICE CREAM. It's not that healthy to begin with, people. I bet the incredible sugar content is really what you should be going after, not the milk, if you want to make a health-based argument.

I know, PETA: Animals are treated like, well, animals. It's sad sad sad. We're all such monsters. So the solution is clearly to throw the human females in front of that bullet to save those sweet, doe-eyed cows. Why not fight for stricter enforcement of regulations? Why not put together a research team to find alternative ways of milking?

On a final note, I really find PETA to be every bit as bad as the pro-life demonstrators. PETA was frequently on my college campus showing "shock" videos of animals being beaten to death and posters of slaughtered and malnourished animals to naive freshmen. Nevermind that the source of the photos was probably a factory being inspected for severe violations that was probably shut down anyway. Nevermind that what you're doing is based on emotional manipulation, rather than verifiable fact (read: propaganda). Nevermind that to a lot of us, you look the same as those assholes holding up pictures of aborted fetuses. Also, one time you called my cousin a whore for eating a fast food burger, and that is REALLY NOT COOL.

The bottom line: If you don't want to eat meat or dairy, PETA, that's totally cool. But you really have to stop crusading for the rest of us to join you. You're like the Jehovah's Witnesses of vegetarianism. The rest of us don't bug you to eat meat (well, maybe some jerks do, but they're jerks and the rest of us don't approve), so stop ringing the national doorbell and attempting to minister your way of life to us.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

High-caliber blogging

Here's some insight into the sort of quality, thoughtful, and deep material you will find on this blog, as reflective of my life:

Me: (preparing generic canned ravioli--Foyardi?) Did you ever notice how it sounds like queefing when you dump the ravioli out of the can? Like really sloppy sex?
Boyfriend: Yeah.

(later, while stirring the hot ravioli)

Boyfriend: *makes queefing sounds with tongue and cheek*
Me: I was JUST thinking the same thing!!

With content like this, some might argue I should mark this blog as adult. But I would counter that it's simply too childish for that title.

Why my future children won't watch the Disney Channel

Well, I keep tossing around the idea of a blog, so here it is. I like to read them, and I've been unemployed for about 3 months now, so perhaps it's best if I find an outlet for all the little thoughts shuffling around in my brain with nowhere to go.

I'm starting with Disney. I'm starting with Disney because this is a subject that really irked me a while ago, but when I started to talk about it, it came off as a rant from nowhere. After sounding like a lunatic a couple of times, I figured maybe a blog would be a better way to present myself. You know, instead of pouncing on my boyfriend when he walks in the door with OH MY GOD I WATCHED "ICE PRINCESS" TODAY AND LET ME TELL YOU HOW SEXIST THAT SHIT WAS.

Disney, FUCK YOU for what you do for women and little girls. Seriously. How many little girls think they NEED boyfriends because the happiness of every single female character in your movies is dependent on landing a man? How many girls are convinced that they are naturally weaker because each of your "heroines" requires some sort of rescuing? Even your "progressive" characters are a fucking joke. Mulan? That was your attempt at a strong female character? She has to BECOME A MALE to successfully battle and at the end, with all of her accomplishments, she still has to FIND A MAN to make a happy ending! Cinderella, Aurora, Belle, Ariel, Jasmin ALL "found love" at the end AND required a man to save them.

That's pretty egregious. However, I'll admit, it's obvious and old news in the feminist realm. What really irks me though, is the more recent Disney movie "Ice Princess". I caught this movie during my unemployment, a period in which I would watch anything. Stop judging.

In case you haven't seen it, "Ice Princess" stars Michelle Trachtenberg (of Pete and Pete fame, if you are roughly my age) as Casey, an intelligent teenager with an interest in Physics. Her mother (Joan Cusack) is involved and supportive of Casey's academic accomplishments, and specifically wants her daughter to make it into an ivy league school. However, while conducting a Physics project, Casey discovers her innate talent for figure skating, and must choose between academics and a figure-skating career.

That's the short of it. Here are the details:
The mother is portrayed as a feminist. She is actually the ANTAGONIST of the film. When she complains about the skimpy, sexualized costumes in figure skating, she is laughed off by her daughter and made to look "out of touch."

Casey's intelligence and interest in Physics make her appear geeky and awkward. She weirds out a boy at a party when she starts talking about Physics. Because everyone knows that you should never, ever appear smarter than a man. Then they won't marry you!

After Casey starts figure skating, another skater teaches her how to apply her make-up and glams her up. At this point, Casey's social life really fucking soars, of course.

Casey's ice-skating gives her new-found "self esteem" and "confidence." Your high IQ will never make you feel as good as bein' real purty does!

Casey succeeds wildly at figure skating and as a result, gives up her scholarship to Harvard. Although this causes a rift between her and her mother, she eventually wins her mother's approval.

So what the fuck, Disney? You actually just gave up on subtle sexist messages and decided to go for a full-blown, anti-feminist movie? You made the feminist the BAD GUY? You took the smart girl and made sure to point out that she was nothing until she made herself more sexually appealing? YOU ACTUALLY MADE GIVING UP A SCHOLARSHIP FOR HARVARD INTO A GOOD THING?

A lot of people will say that this is no big deal, that lots of kids watch this and it's a harmless movie and everyone will turn out fine. This is minimizing a very large societal problem. One way in which television works is to perpetuate ideas of how our society functions and what the norms are. Children watch these messages and they internalize them. They watch "Ice Princess" and they understand that being a "nerd" won't attract a man and will make you very unpopular. They understand that conforming to a certain standard of femininity will make you a social success. And that being a social success will lead to other successes. They understand that holding an unpopular opinion will cause you to be ostracized. This is a big problem. These sorts of ideas take years and years of undoing to overcome, mainly because they are so prevalent in our society (and they are prevalent because corporations like Disney are so fucking huge you can't escape them). For a lot of people, these ideas aren't ever countered, and they become vapid, shallow people with almost no ability to question norms or tolerance for dissent from the norm. Ultimately, it makes it difficult for women to be seen as equals or as more than sexual beings. It makes it harder for women to be. If you still don't think that this is the case, maybe you should step back and re-examine where all of your notions of gender and behavior stem from. Because babies aren't born with a concept of whether they should coordinate their onesie to their genitals.

Did I mention that at the end of "Ice Princess" Casey gets her man?
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