Complaints & Gratitude

standard March 12, 2017 Leave a response

We all complain from time to time, and I know I am especially guilty of it, but there are so many things I am grateful for in my life.

I am grateful to have a roof over my head, protecting me from the snow, when nearly 13,000 people in North Carolina do not have a home to call their own1.

I am grateful to have a fireplace I can turn on with the flick of a switch, a far cry from the 120,040 households in North Carolina who are unable to pay their heating bills2.

I am grateful to have a fully-stocked pantry and refrigerator, unlike the estimated 51,580 people in Durham County, N.C., who lack consistent access to nutritionally-adequate foods3.

I am grateful to be in a loving, stable relationship, unlike the 142 women murdered by their current or former partners at their workplace between 2003 and 20084 or the 453 black women killed by their partners in 20135.

I am grateful to have affordable, work-sponsored health insurance, when 10 million people are projected to lose their health insurance with the American Health Care Act (AHCA)6.

I am grateful to have weekends in which to relax and recover from a hectic week, when nearly 7.8 million Americans are juggling two or more jobs7.

I am grateful for medication that manages my mental health, unlike the estimated 180,842 Florida residents who suffer from untreated severe bipolar disorder8.

I am grateful for the freedom to speak my mind, the freedom to cast my ballot for whomever I choose, and the freedom to worship how I choose (or not at all).

But I shall not let that gratitude keep me complacent, for it is my duty as an American citizen, nay, a decent human being to speak up for those without voices, to bring awareness to trampled civil liberties, and to advocate for those unfairly (and falsely) maligned by those in power.

“When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive – to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.” — Marcus Aurelius

References

  1. “Hate Crimes Against the Homeless: America’s Growing Epidemic of Violence”. 2017. National Coalition for the Homeless. Accessed March 12. http://www.nationalhomeless.org/factsheets/hatecrimes_factsheets/northcarolina.html.
  2. LIHEAP Report to Congress for Fiscal Year 2014. 2014. Ebook. 1st ed. Washington, D.C.: Administration for Children & Families. https://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/ocs/fy14_liheap_rtc_final.pdf.
  3. “Map the Meal Gap”. 2017. Feeding America. Accessed March 12. http://map.feedingamerica.org/county/2014/overall/north-carolina/county/durham.
  4. Tiesman, Hope M., Kelly K. Gurka, Srinivas Konda, Jeffrey H. Coben, and Harlan E. Amandus. 2012. “Workplace Homicides Among U.S. Women: The Role of Intimate Partner Violence”. Annals of Epidemiology 22 (4): 277-284. doi:10.1016/j.annepidem.2012.02.009.
  5. When Men Murder Women | An Analysis of 2013 Homicide Data. 2015. Ebook. 1st ed. Washington, D.C. http://www.vpc.org/studies/wmmw2015.pdf.
  6. Bryan, Bob. 2017. “6-10 Million People Could Lose Their Health Insurance Under GOP’s Obamacare-Replacement Plan”. Business Insider. http://www.businessinsider.com/how-many-people-will-lose-insurance-if-obamacare-repealed-2017-3.
  7. Davidson, Paul. 2016. “The Job Juggle is Real. Many Americans are Balancing Two, Even Three Gigs”. USA TODAY. http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2016/10/17/job-juggle-real-many-americans-balancing-two-even-three-gigs/92072068/.
  8. Prevalence of Untreated Serious Mental Illness by State. 2017. Ebook. 1st ed. Accessed March 12. http://www.treatmentadvocacycenter.org/storage/documents/smi-prevalence-chart.pdf.

Friday 13s – November 4

standard November 4, 2016 Leave a response

Erk, it’s been a while since I’ve posted anything other than ramblings for a while.

1. Magic Chocolate. If this doesn’t convince you that magic is real, nothing will. Meet diospyros nigra, aka the black sapote, a very special kind of persimmon found in the Caribbean, Central America and Colombia. When ripe, the black sapote “assumes a flavor, color and texture often likened to chocolate pudding.” A magical fruit that tastes like chocolate pudding, contains nearly 4 times the amount of vitamin C as an orange, and 134 calories per 100 g? BRING IT.

2. Ninjas in the Ocean. Inky black skin. Bioluminescent. Cat-sized. The Etmopterus benchleyi (after “Jaws” author Peter Benchley) has claimed the title of Weirdest Shark in the Ocean. Nicknamed the ninja shark, it lives at a depth of 3,200 feet in the Pacific Coast of Central America. It’s cute in an ugly sort of way.

3. Florida Man. There must be something in Florida’s water that makes the residents crazy. A 23-year-old threw an alligator into the drive-thru window at Wendy’s as a prank. Seriously. He’s out on bail and the judge has ordered him to avoid contact or ownership with any animals (except his mom’s dog), a mental health evaluation and not possess any weapons (alligators included).

4. Word of the Week. Rapscallion

Definition: rascal, ne’er-do-well

Examples of rapscallion in a sentence:
<the city’s run-down waterfront was occupied mostly by disreputable places frequented by drunkards and rapscallions>
<that little rapscallion kept hiding my shoes and making me go look for them>

5. Vintage Ads. I know I’ve been on a bit of a feminist kick lately (maybe I’ve kept it from you?), but this too hilarious not to share:

if-husbands-spoke-their-minds

6. Spoilsport FDA. First they came for our alfalfa sprouts and we did nothing. Then they came for our tomatoes, and still we did nothing. Even when they came for our beef, we were quiet. Cake mixes, hazelnuts, lettuce, none of it was safe! But now, we can stay silent no more: they have come for our cookie dough and cake batters. Our days of licking the bowl clean after making a delicious vanilla cake are over — not only are our eggs potential E.Coli sources, but now our raw flour is too! Oh the humanity.

7. Pumpkins Lie. Liar, liar, pants on fire, hang ‘em on a telephone wire. That canned pumpkin puree you bought to make your famous pumpkin pie? Not 100% pumpkin. IT’S SQUASH. Well, squash + pumpkin. Because “squash-puree pie” doesn’t sound as delicious as “pumpkin pie.”

8. Elephants in Arkansas. I found the BEST VACATION IDEA EVER – a weekend at an elephant sanctuary where I can help bathe the elephants, feed them and sleep in a dorm on site! Totally going next year, just need to start putting money in my elephant piggy bank…

9. Goat-aly True. A goat was arrested in the Indian state Chhattisgarh for raiding the garden of a senior bureaucrat. The unnamed goat was released on bail (along with his owner), but the duo face 2 to 7 years in prison and a fine. First voting pigs, now criminal goats. What’s next?

10. Bowling Balls. Do you want to impress your friends? Do you hate bowling shoes? Have no fear – Hammacher Schlemmer has come to the rescue. Turn any 40′ x 17′ area into a giant bowling alley, complete with a human-powered 7′ inflatable ball, six 5′ pins and bragging rights to the coolest house on the block. Just be prepared to shell over 5,500 clams (plus another 100 for shipping). Small price to pay for fame, eh?

11. Fast(er) Internet. Google Fiber is now obsolete, researchers at the University College London’s Optical Networks Group have achieved a data rate of 1.125 Tb/s. To put this in perspective, my cell phone just tested at 9.65 Mb/s, the UK’s average bandwidth is 24 Mb/s, and Google Fiber offers 1,000 Mb/s. Don’t tell Colby – he’ll be on the waiting list for years.

12. Fonts Fonts Fonts. Are you a font nerd like me? Do you love picking out font combos for posters, resumes and random memes? But are you just too damn lazy sometimes to scroll through 5,000 fonts to find the perfect combo? Browser Femmebot’s Google Type page – tons of perfect pairings of Google fonts and lovely little stories.

13. Friday Puppy Picture. Say hi to Ra!

photo-nov-04-11-45-50-am

#ControversialHashtagHere

standard September 26, 2016 Leave a response

Note: I wrote this last week but kept postponing posting it, but since Secretary Clinton touched on some of what what’s below, I figured I should post it sooner rather than later.

I’m scared.

Not for myself, but for everyone.

How can our hearts continue to beat with all the sadness, mistrust and anger coursing through our veins?

I normally do not feed the trolls, I do not engage in political discourse with most people because I know that changing their mind is as easy as pulling a rabid steer out of a sinkhole – pretty damn hard. But after reading an article1 posted on Facebook by my friend Megan K, I realized that I’m not helping anyone by my silence, I’m not doing anything, because being a silent bystander is just as bad as publicly spouting vitriol.

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Friday 13s – March 18

standard March 18, 2016 Leave a response

Miss me?

Let’s skip the pleasantries, shall we? We have 13 things to talk about this week!

1. Everyone seems to have an opinion of who to vote for in the upcoming presidential election – even 600 lb. pigs. Yes, the unnamed pig decided he wanted to try and cast his vote in Pelham, N.H., on Feb. 9, 2016. No word yet on who he voted for.

2. Arizona. Land of the Grand Canyon, birthplace of Ernesto Miranda, site of the westernmost Civil War battle, and now, the Land of Testing Welfare Recipients. If you listen to conservative radio you’ll hear pundits going on and on about people mooching off the welfare system and how we’ll save so much money by drug-testing each and every single person. Over the course of three years, Arizona did just that – testing more than 87,000 welfare recipients.

Guess how many positive tests there were. One. Saved the state $560! Yeap, so many addicts mooching off welfare.

3. What if male scientists were described the same way as female scientists?

“A devout husband and father, Darwin balanced his family duties with the study of the specimes he brought from his travels.”

“Sassy and carefree Feynmann challenged social mores as he worked on his research. He broke hearts all over [the] USA.”

@Daurmith has been tweeting these funny but sobering bios of famous male scientists to show the disparity between how men and women are treated in the scientific community.

4. Tired of having to choose between the lesser of two evils at the polls? Frustrated that candidates have forgotten their solemn commitment to better their communities? Well, have no fear! Voters in Whitby-Oshawa, Canada, now have the option of choosing “None of the above.”

Sorta.

Sheldon Bergson of Thornhill, Ont., changed his name to “Above Znoneofthe” to givc voters another option. He hoped that his new moniker would be listed as “Znoneofthe Above” at the bottom of the ballot, except provisional ballots are listed FirstName LastName.

Oops. At least voters will have another option, and who knows, maybe Above will win. Wonder if this is who the pig voted for.

5. I am the first person to admit that my mind wanders down pointless and illogical paths — do elevators get lonely? — but occasionally I have an eureka moment. As we were driving back from the mountains recently, I started thinking of our new house, specifically what would happen if I locked myself out. There are so many kitchy products on the market to hide keys – fake rocks, hidden compartments in gnomes, sprinkler heads – but I wanted something less obvious*. Ding! A garden hose nozzle with a hidey hole in the trigger for a spare key**.

Colby was very amused when I told him, he never knows what will come out of my mouth, but told me we wouldn’t have to worry about it – we’re going to have a smart lock system so I can’t lock myself out of the house. Boo.

And here I thought I had a genius idea.

*Plus rocks are ugly.

**If you make this, I want 10% of the profits.

6. After an altercation which left a mentally-ill 19-year-old (Quintonio LeGrier) and a 55-year-old bystander (Bettie Jones) dead, Officer Robert Rialmo of Chicago, Ill., took the unconventional route and decided to sue the 19-year-old’s estate, stating that when LeGrier swung a baseball bat at his head, it forced Rialmo to take two lives, something which caused him “to suffer extreme emotional trauma.”

There is something sad and more than a little disturbing about a sworn public defender blaming the victim for their own demise and seeking $10 million in damages. When someone becomes a police officer, they do so with the knowledge that by possessing a firearm and being in a position of authority that they might be forced to take a life to protect themselves and/or others. Whether or not LeGrier did indeed swing, his family should not have to deal with the additional pain of a lawsuit.

7.

8. Do elevators get lonely?

9. Anyone want an elliptical bicycle? Per Hammacher Schlemmer, the bicycle (tricycle?) “is propelled by elliptical exercise movements, providing a full-body, low-impact workout outside. The bicycle‘s upright handlebars and foot platforms move back-and-forth, toning muscles in the arms, back, and legs, providing cardiovascular exercise, and propelling the three-wheeled bike forward.” All for one low price of $999.95*

*Sorry, no payment plans are available at this time. That’s what credit cards are for.

10. Eric Springer at Medium had a disturbing encounter with the world’s largest online retailer Amazon recently – someone tried to obtain Eric’s personal information by contacting Amazon and inquiring about recent purchases, credit cards numbers, etc. While Amazon didn’t provide Eric’s card number to the unknown individual, they did provide his address and phone number. The scariest part is that this unknown person wasn’t logged into Eric’s Amazon account – the retailer provided help without the customer being signed in. A bit frightening.

11.

12. DIY steampunk lamp. Enough said. Thanks, Steve Ramsey!

13. I was going to write this last week, but I put it off.

You know you’ve done the same thing. But why do we do it? The Akrasia effect (as coined by famous Greek philosophers) is “the state of acting against your better judgment.” Basically, you are making plans for your future self, but when your future self becomes your present self, it would rather go for the immediate reward, instead of the nasty chore. How to get around it? Try planning a task for a specific time — take out the trash at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, do 15 push-ups at 9 p.m. on Monday — and you’ll be more likely to actually do it.

I’m terrible at forcing myself to do things I don’t like, but reminders do help me. I have a daily reminder at 8:30 a.m. to take my medicine, I can set a reminder to alert me when I get home around 4:45 p.m. to feed the dogs. I add tasks to Todoist and set a due date. I add errands to Google calendar.

It mostly helps.

Friday 13s – February 12

standard February 12, 2016 Leave a response

What types of cookies would the Boy Scouts sell if they broke into the dessert market? Jalapeño chipotle mud pies? Bacon-flavored chocolate chip cookies? Peanut butter snake skins? Oh the possibilities…

There is a box of thanks-a-lots sitting on my desk, courtesy of my coworker Rob and his Girl Scout daughter Mollie. They are supposed to be for a girls’ nights at my friend Amy’s place tonight, but they might not make it home. 

1. There are plenty of scandals in Hollywood these days — Ariana Grande licked a donut, Ben Affleck was a little too friendly with his nanny, Ingrid Berman had an illegitimate child with a married director — but Kurt Russell wasn’t expecting his own scandal when following his script while shooting the Hateful Eight. The scene called for Russell to grab a guitar from Jennifer Jason Leigh and smash it against a beam.

An six-string 1870s Martin.

The priceless guitar was to be swapped mid-take, with Russell destroying a guitar stunt double, but unfortunately, Russell wasn’t told that key piece of info.

“As a result of the incident, the [Martin Guitar Museum] will no longer loan guitars to movies under any circumstances.”

2. Forget cow and shark attacks, we need to be wary of squirrels – they are targeting our power grids. It’s only a matter of time before they take over the world.

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Friday 13s – December 4

standard December 4, 2015 Leave a response

Happy 338th day of 2015!

1. Wyoming is the least populous state in the Union – an estimated 582,658 people lived there in 2013.

2. Christmas is coming, whether you’re ready or not. Unleash the love and tinsel!

3. Having a hard time finding a gift for that oddball in your life? How about Gingerdead Men Christmas ornaments? How about a Krampus the Christmas demon costume for that person who believes Halloween is a year-round celebration? A map of all the monsters in America for the traveler?

4. The Issus nymph, an insect smaller than a fire ant, has the best adolescence EVER. Unlike other bugs, which use their nervous systems to keep their legs in sync when jumping, the teen issus use gears. Yes, like mechanical gears. But the issus’ nervous system is too slow for jumping – a single sent from the legs to the brain and back again takes 5-6 milliseconds.

Instead, the gears, which engage before the jump, lets the issus lock its legs together – syncing their movements to 1/300,000 of a second, or 400 Gs, or 8 mph (faster than me!). Even stranger, the gears are molted away by the time they reach adulthood – then they jump like every other insect. Nature is awesome.

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Daughter of an Immigrant

standard November 21, 2015 Leave a response

America has welcomed 3 million immigrants since 1975. — President Obama

I’ve seen a few memes floating around the internet lately saying that we shouldn’t let Syrians into the country, because a few Syrians committed acts of terrorism in France. Some European countries have also expressed the same sentiment.

Quite frankly, that’s a load of bull.

You can’t condemn an entire population because of the actions of a few extremists.

As I said on Facebook, should we condemn all Christians for the Oklahoma City bombings? All Catholic priests for pedophilia? All soldiers for committing acts of violence against their own?

No, we shouldn’t.

So why should we condemn innocent Syrians for what a few people did?

It’s ludicrous.

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